Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How I Flunked Out of Starfleet Academy: Part 1

Hello Troops,
Adrian Stevens is the USS Voyager's Quartermaster (responsible for ship's supplies and equipment). She is the creation of Aleta Clegg, the Space Center's real summer quartermaster, head and only cook and chief bottle washer. She made first her first appearance on
The Troubadour during the summer camp two years ago. We're glad to see her back.

Today Aleta tells us Adrian's back story.....

Mr. W.

I slung my bag over my shoulder. The gates of Starfleet Academy gleamed white in the overly bright sun. I'd never been to Earth before. I expected it to be a warm and gentle place, it wasn't. The hot, dry air sucked moisture in a moment, leaving me wilted. The sun of Calfours was dimmer and softer than this harsh light.

"Cadets! Report to the main desk for orientation." The burly man in the white uniform flipped his clipboard shut.

I joined the line of shuffling, gawking cadets. I had great hopes for my future. I'd worked hard to get admitted. I'd make my Momma proud. I'd return home as a Starfleet officer or I wouldn't go back.

"Name?" The clerk never even looked up from her terminal.

"Adrian Stevens."

She tapped the screen. A white card popped out of a slot. She handed it to me. "Report to the counter behind me. Next!"

I joined another line at the counter, presenting my card when I finally reached the burly man behind it. He slid my card through a reader, handing it back to me with a sniff. "General studies, huh? Flunked your aptitude tests?" He pushed a stack of uniforms to me.

"Aptitude test?"

"To see what you're best at." He accepted a red card from a tall, handsome cadet. "Red for command and bridge positions, yellow for security and weapons officers, blue for science, green for engineering, orange for computer specialists, and white for not specified." He slid uniforms to the handsome cadet. "You'll still get to space. Go line up by color with the others."

I crossed the huge hall to where cadets were gathering. The cadet behind me, the one with red piping on his uniform, nudged me.

"General studies means you're too stupid to qualify for any other position," he said. "You'll end up behind a desk, pushing papers and answering calls."

"Not likely," I answered. "I didn't take any aptitude test."

"It was part of the application process. Everyone takes the test." He turned to his left. "Go line up with the other losers, down there at the end."

I passed milling groups of cadets, all carrying uniforms with colored piping. I found the other general studies cadets at the far end. We had no color, nothing on our uniforms but the Starfleet Academy insignia. I shuffled into place, wondering what else I'd missed. I wanted to be a pilot or an engineer or any of the numerous bridge stations on a battlecruiser. I wanted to wear an officer's uniform home to my Momma. I would make it happen.

"Hey, another one of us." The cadet who greeted me was short with curly dark hair. "My name's Christine." She pointed at the other two general studies, two male cadets. "The short one is Wyatt and the tall one with the scowl is Alex."

Alex glared at Christine. "I'm in the wrong group. I should be in with the computer specialists or the weapons officers. General studies, ha. They messed up the scores. As soon as I find someone to talk to, we'll get this straightened out."

Wyatt grinned. "Hey, at least we're in the Academy. What's shaking?"

"I'm Adrian." I returned his grin.

The speaker crackled. "Cadets will report for dormitory assignments."

I followed my new group out the door and across the campus.

Your Link to Adrian's Blog. Enjoy

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Rest and then INCOMING!

Hello Troops,
Our last visitors to the Space Center disembarked the Starships at 6:30 P.M. last night. Today is our day off. Tomorrow our call to duty comes at 10:00 A.M. with private missions. Three day EdVenture and four day Ultimate Campers report for duty at 6:45 P.M. Shortly thereafter we engage the enemy. It will be four great days of flights, classroom work, swimming, chills and thrills.

We had a fantastic group of campers last week. The Flight Directors were happy, the volunteers were happy, our teachers were happy and most importantly - Mrs. Clegg was happy. In fact, she was so happy she donned her Klingon uniform and served our disco lunch in character.

Megan Warner and Matt R. are nearly finished with the Voyager's new medical station. It should be ready for this upcoming camp. The medical station will allow us to take one extra camper per camp. Happy camper and happy Mr. Williamson (more campers means a better balance sheet).

Our camper quote of the week:
7:20 A.M. Friday morning. The boys are slowly streaming into the gym from the Voyager's sleeping quarters with their sleeping bags and pillows. I'm sitting by the gym exit door waiting to send them to breakfast. A campers walks up to me looking worried.

"Mr. Williamson."
"When do we get to spend money?"

These campers never fail to please or surprise me, even after twenty years of running these camps.

The staff and volunteers serenaded me for my birthday on Friday. Thanks everyone for remembering. I've survived 53 rotations around the sun. All but seven of them have been in some kind of school whether it be elementary, secondary, college and twenty nine years of teaching. You'd think I'd have this learning thing out of my system by now.

Shall we enjoy the latest imaginings steaming in through the Imaginarium's Central Control Center. I'm sitting here right now watching the monitors. I'm always amazed by people's creativity and imaginations.

Task: design and build a fountain.
There is the traditional fountain exposing a serious cancer of creativity

Then there is the fountain designed by a student of the imagination.

One Awesome Watch.

Two buttons that tell the truth about politics.

Something for us Dr. Who and Harry Potter hybrids.

Having some imaginary fun with Disney and Potter

Your MisFortune Cookie

Get it? Trix and Illusions? Get it?
I'm lovin it.

And so it is and ever will be.......

See you in the Trenches! Enjoy your summer and remember, no summer is complete without time spend at the Space Center.

Mr. W.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Utah Kids Learn Space Skills at Astrocamp

Hello Troops,
Astrocamp is our sister center located at Discovery Elementary School in Ogden, Utah. Ed Douglas founded the camp about the same time I started the Space Education Center in 1990. We sponsor a joint camp with Astrocamp every summer. This six day camp starts at Astrocamp on a Monday. The campers are bussed to the Space Center on Thursday. They finish the camp on Saturday.

Astrocamp was in the news today. Read on and learn about a great educational program in Utah.

Mr. Williamson

By Mary Richards

OGDEN -- After July, the U.S. will no longer fly shuttle missions into space. But Utah kids don't care. They are still excited about space travel.

In one room at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden, kids wearing orange jumpsuits are concentrating on the binders before them, fingers poised over the buttons they must push.

"Systems activated," says one. "Copy, Phoenix!" says another via headset from mission control down the hall, where another team looks at its screens showing different views of the shuttle and surrounding area. Every person plays a part in this simulated shuttle takeoff and landing.

Astrocamp Director Ed Douglas says it teaches teamwork and boosts confidence.

"That self-esteem, that 'I did something hard,' there's nothing better than that," he said.

Douglas says Astrocamp registration fills up within days of opening in the spring. Kids are still clamoring to learn about space, even though NASA's space shuttle program is ending.

"We've finished one chapter in a book and we've started another chapter. It's still the same book. Space travel will always be space travel no matter what system or program we are using to launch astronauts into space," he explained.

There are different levels and lengths of missions they can go through.

"They can do a spacewalk and get in helmets and repair a satellite, and experience just what it is to be an astronaut."

But it's not just about astronauts. Douglas likes to share with the kids a story of Neil Armstrong thanking the guy who tightened the screws, because everyone is important and must work together.

As the kids finish this mission, they breathe sighs of relief when they hear that although they were about a minute late for the projected liftoff, they still had very few mistakes.

"Nice job, Astrocamp!" they cheer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011. Bed and the Medical Station.

Hello Troops,
I'm at my desk waiting for the boys to finish their tribal experience in the Voyager's Crew Quarters. Jon has them layered deep listening to somewhat exaggerated tales of previous crews and their daring exploits from one corner of the Galaxy to the other.

And now a Walton's moment....
"Good night Jon," said a voice from the loft.
"Good night boys," replied Jon from below.

This is the first night of our 3rd EdVenture Camp with four more to go (and a Leadership Camp thrown in for good measure). We're at our breaking point max with 46 campers (our preferred number is 44). We're making do. The Magellan is taking 15 kids in each rotation. The Voyager will increase their numbers to 11 instead of 10.
Of course that means the Voyager's Medical Station will need to run and that presented a problem. The programming for the Medical Station is faulty.

Matt R. stepped up to the plate early this afternoon and began working on a Revolution Stack to take the place of the current Hypercard Medical Stack. Megan Warner arrived at 4:30 P.M. to help in the design. They worked on the station until 11:00 P.M.

Hopefully the Medical Station will be ready for the camp's first 5 hour rotation tomorrow.

Megan and Matt discussing the main screen on the Medical Station

A close up of Megan's art work on the Briefing Room's white board

Matt gets clarification on a few of the icons before programming them into the stack.

And they both pause for a moment to smile for our Troubadour readers.

And I'm hoping to see you soon at the Space Education Center,

Mr. W.

Honors and Glory

Hello Troops,
Yes, this is a post long in coming yet delayed for reasons within my control yet neglected due to procrastination. What can I say? "I'm only human" comes to mind but anyone that knows me would say that statement is debatable.

I start this ramble through memory's thickets with an apology to my staff and volunteers. Don't make me your public enemy number 1 if I forgot the reason for the picture. You are to take pity on a poor soul that is lucky if he forgets to turn off the stove and lock the front door at night.

So, are we ready for this adventure through the Space Center's photo album?

Nate is awarded his Flight Director's Shirt from the Phoenix Set Director (Alex Anderson). Nate is Phoenix Certified for flight. Murphy is his Irish engineer character. His accent is quite believable. It is so believable I find myself craving a nice pint of Guinness when I hear him fly :)

This is Aliah. I believe she is getting her year pin. Great job Aliah for putting up with us for one year.

This is one of our special volunteers. Metta is getting her 10 YEAR PIN!!! The 10 year service club at the Space Center has very few members - Myself, Mark Daymont, Bill Schuler, Lorraine Houston and now Metta Smith.

Mark congratulates Connor for getting his Magellan pin. Great job Connor!

I'm shaking Julia Anna's hand because she just earned her year pin. Julia Anna is
smart and makes a fine good fudge which she shares if you ask kindly with eyes down.

Caitlynn earned her Galileo pin from Ben. Great job Caitlynn.

Morgan is one of our Park City volunteers. She earned her Phoenix Pin.

This is Bronson. Bronson lives in Park City and also earned his Year Pin. Good Job!

Matt lives in Logan. Now that's dedication. Volunteering for him is a day long event with you take travel time to and from Logan into account. I believe Logan is also getting his year pin.

Matt R. is getting his baby blue Programmer's Guild shirt from Alex.

And finally, Brittney is congratulating Jackie for getting her Magellan Pin.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Screen Shots of the New Galileo Controls

Hello Troops,
One of our Troubadour readers suggested that I put a few screen shots of the Galileo's new Cocoa (Apple's programming language for the iPhone and iPad) simulator controls on the blog for everyone to enjoy. Let it never be said that Mr. Williamson doesn't listen to The Troubadour's regular readers.

Your wish is my command....

Our Programming Guild has been working hard on these new controls for nearly two years. Much of that time was spent learning Cocoa, then came the art work. The biggest hurdle the Guild faced was the ...... ah.......ummm????.......ah .... the server....gizzmo thing that sends out the ah... things.... to the ....... Anyway, I'm sure you understand what I mean from that brilliant description provided.

So, with drums rolling and trumpets blaring I present a few shots of the Galileo's Cocoa Controls written for touch screen.
A hush has fallen over the Imaginarium as the congregants sit and wait for the red velvet curtain to rise.
The trumpets have stopped.
Amazing pyrotechnics are lighting the hall.
The Space Center has spared no expense in the unveiling of these new controls.

Now three large booms and darkness. The hall is completely dark. A spotlight has appeared, focused on the exact center of the curtain. The curtain is rising.

I can't see very well from where I'm sitting but I'm hearing gasps. Now I can see the controls for myself! I'm enveloped in thunderous applause. Paramedics are rushing to the front of the hall. I'm told there is a problem with minor fainting from those closest to the stage).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Lemonade and Good Company

Hello Troops,
What a week we've had. You read in the previous post how Fortuna had her way with us yesterday with the Voyager's issues, not to mention the day before with the wacky weather. Sometimes I want to climb up on the school's roof, raise my hands to the sky and cry "Enough Already!".

Yesterday Tregan appeared at the bottom of the Voyager's stairs holding a Diet Coke in his outstretched hands. He walked up the steps to where I stood at the Security Station wondering what to do about the shattered plastic. He was like a worshipper at a Greek Temple presenting gifts to the Gods in hopes of favorable attention. It made me chuckle and brightened my mood.

"This is from the staff and volunteers," he said.

Sometimes that's all it takes to turn an ugly situation into something tolerable. It was an act of kindness that was appreciated. Thank you staff and volunteers for the kind thought and thanks for spending your soda pop money on me.

OK, its Sunday and a rainy one at that here in Utah. In the Imaginarium its bright, sunny and warm. So, come on over to my table and enjoy a Lemonade with me while we relax and let our imaginations run amok through space and time. We desperately need a break from the here and now.

Bluntness has its place. So does complete honesty. So does knowing when and where that place and time is. So volunteers and staff, don't be offended if I'm blunt with you at times. I'm only helping readjust your perspective. You'll be the better for it :)
The Magic School bus in the Imaginarium.

One sign wouldn't have scratched the surface of my anger yesterday afternoon. Next time I have a simulator melt down like that I'm renting three large billboards on Interstate 15. Make them digital billboards so I can exclaim my feelings in full, rich and vibrant color.

This is what it feels like to children when they come to the Space Education Center to face the universe's greatest villains and natural phenomena. They become heroes. They save the day. The Space Center is a magical place that hugs and nourishes the imaginations and egos of our little ones.

Stupid people rise to the surface if you let them. Look below for another example.

Really people? Really?
Is Canadian self esteem so desperately low that their national identity is anchored to hockey?
I think Canada would implode in on itself if it ever faced a true national emergency.

And in that mirrored universe physics tells us may be out there.......

I plan on printing several dozen of these and keeping them in my pocket. I'll pull one out, remove the paper backing and apply it to your shirt when you've occupied my attention long enough in a conversation

"Doctor's orders," I'll say as I walk away. I'm sure you'll understand.

They wait for the lunch bell at the Imaginarium's Nearly There Home for Elderly Superheroes and The Confused. On today's menu, Tomato Soup with milk, toast for dipping, tapioca pudding and for dessert - their afternoon pill to help with aching joints.

Another of God's Gifts to Mankind.
All doubters are Condemned by order of the Management.

I want this lamp for my desk and I want it now. Don't keep scrolling down. I said I want this lamp for my desk. Do something about it. You have your orders. Carry them out.
Who said I was easy to please?

There is always something interesting to see in the Imaginarium.

Have you ever wondered if that person staring at you from the park bench or in line at the WalMart may be a time traveller? I sometimes get this overwhelming impulse to walk up to one of them and ask why they've chosen that particular place and time to appear. Could they be waiting for a disaster to strike? Or, perhaps its me they've travelled back in time to study. The thought is prime nourishment for one's ego.

I'm writing my family's history on another blog ( My greatest frustration is coming to a dead end on an ancestral line because no one living at that time in my family kept records or wrote anything about their lives.

Please do your descendants a favor and keep some kind of a journal or diary - even if you think your life is boring and repetitive. One day, your descendants will cherish those writings.

Amen Brother

I need a refill on my lemonade but before I do, I think I'll have a nice lay down and snooze. So if you'll excuse me, I'll be taking my leave.

Have a Great Weekend. I hope to see you all at the Space Education Center soon. Our time in the trenches passes slowly without you.

Mr. Williamson