Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NASA is Bringing Mars to the Orem Library Tonight


Hello Troops,
A special event will be held tonight at the Orem Public Library. Attending this event will give you two class hours toward your Space Center Rank (for you campers). I attended Todd's presentation last year. It was well worth my time and I urge you and your family to attend. The article below was taken from the Daily Herald.

Mr. Williamson

As part of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, Todd Barber, a NASA scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will talk about highlights and memorable moments in his career as a NASA engineer. He will share images of his work and the new Mars rover launching in November 2011, named Curiosity. The program is called "NASA Science Outreach: Lifting The Veil On The Solar System."

"They have done amazing things all year," said Nan Black of the Orem library.

"Nan put the hard sell on to get us to Timpanogos," said Barber in a phone interview as he prepared to board his flight to Utah. "We go to see how the real masters of storytelling do their magic and try to incorporate that in our public outreach."

Barber is a popular speaker wherever he goes, and will be speaking to more than 2,500 people while he is here. He will be showing video and photos of everything from the two Mars rovers, to the new Mars rover to be launched the day after Thanksgiving, to the final shuttle mission this year, to missions to asteroids and distant moons and more. He also will be giving away shuttle patches, shuttle bookmarks, lithographs and more.

"I will talk about our last Mars rover," he said. "We've lost one of the two, six years into its three-month mission." Telling the public about Curiosity, the new rover to be launched this fall, gets people "fired up for the next big thing at JPL," he said.

"Join him as he reviews an exciting 2011 for JPL, including the Aquarius launch, Comet Hartley-2 and Comet Tempel-1 fly-bys, Jupiter Juno launch, the last shuttle mission, observation of icy jets on Enceladus, new data from the Dawn probe, and preparation for the Mars rover and Curiosity launches," said library officials in a statement.

Barber will speak on today at 7 p.m. at the library, located at Center and State streets in Orem



Monday, August 29, 2011

Chili's Resturant Fund Raiser Tonight


Hello Troops,
A Space Center Fund Raiser will be held Tonight and Tonight Only at Chili's Restaurant in American Fork. Click on the image above to enlarge, print it, and present it when ordering your meal and Chili's will donate a portion of your bill to the Space Center. Everyone Wins! You get a great meal and the Space Center earns much needed funds for our new 3rd Grade Educational Outreach Program.

So, take the night off, don't cook and eat out at Chili's in American Fork. Don't forget to take the image above and present it when ordering. (Flyers were also sent out to all staff, volunteers and Frequent Flyers).

Thank you!
Mr. Williamson

Tyler Gardner Wins Scholarship to Space Camp!


Hello Troops,
One of our very own programmer / volunteers was recently awarded a scholarship to Space Camp in Alabama. Click to read all about it.

Congratulations Tyler!
Mr. W.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Red Blemish and Other Things. A Sunday Post.

This past week Bracken Funk got to meet The Red Blemish, his favorite superhero. The Red Blemish fights crime from his secret headquarters in his parent's basement. The Red Blemish stopped by the Space Education Center after hearing we were having problems with young delinquents , their chewing gum and our carpets. (Word has it the Red Blemish was pulled over by Pleasant Grove's Police Department after leaving the Space Center and ticketed for duct taping over his scooter's license plate to conceal his identity).


Hello Troops,
We finished the first week of school without any major inconveniences. Let's take a moment to give Fortuna a wink and a nod in thanks for leaving the Space Center alone and focusing her mischiefs on the eastern seaboard of the United States. We are impressed - aren't we? In one week they experienced an earthquake and hurricane. No wonder its been so quiet in Pleasant Grove.

I was going to post the latest Space Center pictures (news and honors) but forgot my camera at the school. Sunday is my day of leisure, laziness and slothfulness; that means I won't drive to the school to get the pictures. I realize the disappointment might be more than you can manage, but I've got my "I don't give a darn" shirt on and, well, that's about it. You'll have to wait.

Instead I've decided to take you with me on a walk through around the Imaginarium to see what we can see. Slip on your shoes and let's see how creative people can be.


Does this seem strangely familiar? You got it! The control rooms of the Voyager and Magellan.
There are more similarities than differences :)

I know the staff are thinking I'm in that crowd watching and 'managing'. Well, what you don't see in the picture above is another hole twice a deep and wide just to the left and out of the camera's view. I'm the one at the bottom of that hole laboring in a cloud of dust and dirt, setting an example for all. Yes sir, setting an example for all. Please, no applause............... Thank you.




Hello, I'm a teenager and I'm indestructible. Nothing can hurt me. I spit in the face of gravity and common sense. I laugh at reason. Rational thinking won't find a home in my devolving brain. I'm a teenager. Watch me roar............ (Stupid, Stupid and Stupid. This young man and Nature are on a collision course and it won't be pretty).


My thoughts on Facebook Friends. Are you with me?


Target has a special on previously parented kids. 3 for $10 is quite a steal. Look they can read and know how to sit quietly. Better hurry - there are only three left.



For you Battlestar Fans.


True, how true.



The power of a Space Center worker's mind should be labeled dangerous. We should be required to wear stickers, warning the general population to stand back at least four feet away. Our brains, and the power of the thoughts that emanate from them, have been known to cause hallucinations and minor nose bleeding.




Wonderland Primary School had picture day yesterday. Albus Arnold doesn't care for school pictures, as evident in Room 7's class photo. After three failed attempts to garnish even the slightest smile from his weaned on a pickle appearance, his teacher had an epiphany.

"Albus, we're going to the Space Center on a field trip this year!"

Albus frown turned upside down into the best smile he's ever given a school picture. His parent's were so pleased to finally have a good picture of Albus to put on their living room's wall they volunteered to pay for the entire field trip themselves.

Etc. etc. and etc.

Have a Great Sunday and I'll see many of you this week in the trenches.

Mr. W.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Mystery Called Aleta.

Aleta Clegg with her Universally Famous Paklid Pizza.
A Special Dessert for her Favorite Campers.
Children on her Naughty List are given the uneaten Twinkies from last year's camps.

Hello Troops,

Many ask, "How did she do it? How did one person manage our summer camp kitchen and feed 75 people three meals a day (we're not talking corn hash on a bun. We mean three good meals)?"

In a recent drinking fountain staff discussion I heard some hypothesize that Aleta Clegg must be a classically trained witch capable of managing multiple summer camp meals by flicking her Olivander Wand and pronouncing incantations with perfect elocution.

Another said he had inside information about Aleta from someone who knows someone who is related to someone who is related to Aleta. His source said that Aleta secretly hired extra kitchen help and kept them out of sight when others were around to maintain the illusion that she worked miracles.

"She is Mary Poppins," one of our younger volunteers said. "Practically perfect in every way."

A Flight Director wishing to remain anonymous listened intently. "She never went to bed. That's how she did it. One night I heard someone in the cafeteria at 4:00 A.M. I went to investigate - didn't find anything except the faint smell of Lemon Verbena."

"That's the kind of hand lotion she uses," another added. "Makes it herself from her own garden," another added.

Suffice to say, Aleta is a mystery. Previous attempts to figure her out have led to fainting spells and dementia. Doctors recommend we "Leave it alone."

Our Paklid Pizza.
"Yummy," said one camper. "I love red vines!"
"My mom won't let me eat pizza," said another. "Tomato paste gives me an upset tummy and
I'm lactose intolerant. I'll have a cookie please - if they don't have nuts. Nuts make me break out in hives."


Aleta serving supper on the second night of an EdVenture Camp.


Happy Campers preparing to "dive in".
The fresh pineapple seems to confuse this camper.
"What's wrong with this pineapple?" he asked. "Does it come out of a can?
We only eat things that come out of a can."

Happy Campers waiting for their supper.
(professional models).
While our campers are usually this cheerful, we thought it
best to hire professional child models to ensure a good picture.


Our staff mingle with the campers during meal times (ignore the fact that they are on one side of the table and the campers are on the other).


Our flight directors enjoy each other's company after a good meal in the camp cafeteria. Notice their jovial mood. Good food means a happy staff. A happy staff means happy campers. Happy campers means a happy Mr. Williamson. All because of Aleta Clegg - Pleasant Grove's very own Wonder Woman.

Casey comes to the Space Center for all his meals, even if he is not assigned to work. Yes, the food is that good.

"Je suis l'aimer. Bon Appetit!" as Casey likes to say before diving in.

"S'en aller. tu me dérange pas," is added if you linger too long while he is eating. Casey prefers to dine alone, except for a single candle (not seen because the school district banned open flames in the school. He keeps a Bic lighter in his pocket and lights it when no one is looking. We turn a blind eye, its Casey after all).

Have a Great Weekend!
Mr. W.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Announcing a New Space Education Center Program. Open Missions!


Armilda Breeze and her son Wilbur always wanted to come to a Space Center Party but couldn't.

I spoke with Armilda and Wilbur from my seat on the Wonderland Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel is a great place to go and think through mission plots and scenarios while enjoying a good corn dog and snow cone.

"It was always a problem trying to get a group of people together who could come at the same time, now we can," Armilda said. We conversed while waiting for the Ferris Wheel to start moving.

Armilda was referring to the Space Center's new Open Mission Program, giving individuals and small groups an opportunity to attend the 2.5 hour party missions without having to put together a large group.

"Yes, Finally. No more stupid Ferris Wheel!" Wilbur shouted as he surveyed the grounds below looking for an unsuspected person to spit on. I saw him lock eyes on a pretty blonde girl roughly his age waiting in the line to board the Ferris Wheel.

Wilbur spit. The drippings missed the girl and landed in a boy's cotton candy. He looked up and held out his hand thinking it was the first drop of an incoming shower. Wilbur ducked down out of sight. Armilda realized what he'd done and slapped him on the back of his head. Armilda isn't one to allow spitting from a Ferris Wheel.

"Please excuse Wilbur. He has many of his father's grotesque mannerisms," she said apologetically.

I nodded and made a mental note to watch for Wilbur at the Space Center. I wanted to be sure to put him on any ship but the one I'd be flying.

For more information on Open Missions, look at the top of the Blog's right side bar and come and join Armilda and Wilbur on an Open Mission at the Space Center. Mind you, Wilbur was grounded for spitting so you may have to wait a week or two if you want to go with him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hold on, It Could Be a Bumpy Ride


Hello Troops,
Its the start of my 29th school year at Central School right here near beautiful downtown Pleasant Grove, home of the Hart's Gas Station's Big Chill! Much has changed since that first bell rang in August of 1983 but the basics remain the same. There are teachers, there are students and there are the brick enclosures that keep us in company. Every day we have this transfer of knowledge from us old timers to the millions of younglings who will inherit the best and the worst of who we are, what we've learned and what we've done to and for the planet.

At 8:45 A.M. I walked out into bright sunlight wearing my fluorescent orange crossing guard's vest (my pumpkin suit). The front of the school was already crowded with students all decked out in their new clothes and shoes. They looked at me. Some wondered who I was and why I was wearing that funny looking vest. Others knew I was a teacher and stepped back to give me a wide berth. A few managed a cautious smile. I said "Good morning!" Some responded, while others couldn't be bothered.

I took my place at the point where 100 East intersects 400 North. It's my special spot. My shoes and that section of concrete have been the best of friends every school day morning for over ten years. I know that road intimately. I've witnessed the effects of time and weather on the telephone pole I use for shade on bright warm mornings. I've seen nearly two full cycles of children cross my street. I introduced myself to them as Kindergartners and met them every morning at that spot until they graduated from the 6th grade and moved on to Junior High. When I'm gone I expect they'll put up a memorial obelisk to my honor just like the ones erected for the Egyptian Pharaohs. It will stand right on my spot near the crosswalk. Hieroglyphs describing my sidewalk exploits and achievements will adorn its four sides. It will be one of the wonders of Pleasant Grove.

I'm excited for another year. I'm grateful for the chance I have to work at the Space Education Center. I'm privileged to get to work with the finest kids in Utah.

Why not make this school year the best ever? Let's work hard in our classes, both as teachers and students? There will be bumps along the road and frustration over homework, there always is, so expect the good and the bad and plan accordingly. Just remember, you are in school to learn so put away the iphone, fasten your seat belt and tune in. It's your future we are talking about.

Now, its time to exercise the imagination.....

Mr. W.


Where would the world be without sarcasm? It is one of evolution's masterpieces, the brain's way of releasing pressure without exploding.



The recipe for a perfect home.



And what will we find when this happens to us? What will we find when we
reach the Boundary between the universe of our physics and that which lies beyond?



What has happened to us? I'm sure you've noticed how every car produced in the world today looks alike. Where is the imagination of design?



And finally, a secret gathering of time travellers.
The location will remain a secret.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Waiting at the Luneville Station, and Other Things.



Hello Troops,
I'm waiting for my train at Wonderland's Luneville Station. I'm in Luneville on assignment from the Imaginarium to inspect the Luneville Inspiration Packaging Works (LIPW). The LIPW produces the mental packaging used to wrap basic Inspirations.

Inspirational packaging is different for each person. This individuality helps every Receiver believe their new Inspiration is completely unique to them.

Hackford Memes is a technician at the Ministry of Inspirations. Today he is working on a new Inspiration in the Ministry's Laboratory at the Imaginarium. Hackford is responsible for the Inspiration that resulted in several items used in your home today. Mind you, not all his Inspirations are keepers (as illustrated above), but his track record is very good.

The Imaginarium's Ministry of Inspirations issues Inspirations hoping the Receivers will act on them to make the world a better place. Sadly some Inspirations, no matter how cleverly packaged, fail to motivate the Receiver to action. Unused Inspirations are return to the Ministry, reshelved and held until another candidate appears with the abilities to act on the gift.

And now, a few items from the Imaginarium....


Get yours while supplies last! Invisibility Cloaks are a must for the start of the school year. I own one and wouldn't go anywhere without it.

A Transparent Tardis

Let's use our imaginations and change this to a mirrored Tardis. Wouldn't a mirrored Tardis be perfect for every store's clothing department. The Dr. Who fans would go bananas and buy, buy and buy (and we all know that Dr. Who fans are more intelligent than your average Joe. With more intelligence comes a higher income, and a higher income means more spending power, and more spending power means more sales, and more sales means increased profits, and increased profits mean you get rich. All because you put a mirrored Tardis in your store!)



One day, a great speaker you shall be. Backwards, you get things.


A special new beverage from 'Workers of the World Unite!' Soft Drink Works in North Korea, brewed just for people with Socialist inclinations. All Leninades come with a paper cup. You get to drink half the bottle. The other half must be poured into the cup and given to someone who doesn't have the money to buy a Leninade for themselves.

All Leninade machines are equipped with surveillance cameras to ensure that you voluntarily share your drink equally with your less fortunate Comrades. Drinking an entire Leninade yourself results in public humiliations followed by the words "Capitalist" and "Bourgeoisie" stamped on your identification cards.


A word on weather tolerance worldwide.


An Oxygen Atom's dream.


The Daily Prophet advertises Miss Umbridge's latest book by saying, "Get your copy now at Flourish and Blotts, they are flying off the shelves!" This is deceptive. They are 'flying off the shelves' because of a spell Dolores cast on each copy, not because of brisk sales.


The question is, "Are you unique and different enough to be considered irreplaceable?" If not, work on it.




It's all in how things are packaged and presented, isn't it? Wendy's comes to mind. They advertise their french fries are salted with sea salt instead of regular salt. Improved taste is what they claim. In reality, this new advertising campaign is designed to make you, the average American, think sea salt is more 'nutritious' than that common mucky salt you've used for years at home. The sea salt makes you feel better about Jumbo sizing your fries.

One customer said recently, "I used to eat a regular fry with my combo. Now I jumbo size it. The more fries I eat the better because we all know that life on Earth crawled out of the sea. Right?"


Youngsters, if you want that cool tattoo, come to the Sorry Mom Tattoo Parlor where we specialize in giving lectures as good as your mom's before we start the work. This saves her the trouble and saves you the day long lecture. We start by hesitating to give you the tattoo, then relent if you persist. Next, we insist the tattoo go somewhere hidden under your clothes, then relent if you persist. Finally, we will refuse to give you the tattoo if the picture or language is questionable, then relent if you persist.

You won't find these services anywhere else.



You'll find a marshmallow and stick next to all fire extinguishers in Wonderland. It gives you something to do while you wait for the fireman to arrive.



This Inspiration from the Imaginarium's Ministry of Inspirations actually took hold, took root and became something of a local hang out. Each booth has a computer logged on to Facebook. Each booth has a web camera so you can Skype yourself eating to everyone you know. If you dribble or spill, the video footage can be instantly uploaded to YouTube with a couple clicks of the mouse. You just might become the next YouTube sensation!



Are you Republican? Are you Democrat? Perhaps a member of the Tea Party? Might I suggest that voting alone may not be enough to solve our country's fiscal problems. In the end, the folks in Washington tend to do just what they want, regardless of what the 'simple folks back home who don't know all the facts' say. Find ways to get involved. Become vocal. Ask tough questions. Demand accountability. If we all do our part, the slaughter house might not have to be 'the end game'.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Teacher's Meet and the Super Overnight


Just us waiting for the Meeting to start. Most just wanted to get back to their schools.
Others were patient, knowing donuts and gallons of Diet Coke waited for them in the
mingling and 'get to know you' sessions afterwords

Earlier today (Friday) all Alpine District Employees met at UVU for a good ole time revival! There was plenty of hand clapping, testifying, back slapping, horn tooten and song singing. It was the old time religion. Souls were saved from summer's slothfulness. Regretfully no healings were witnessed, but there are nine months to go.

I felt sorry for the hundred or so high school students assigned to greet us along the sidewalks leading to the revival. They were under orders to clap for the hour or so it took all of us to get off our buses and into the meeting. Many were kind enough to shout positive platitudes. I thought it strange, considering we are the ones hired to shackle their bodies and minds to the state core curriculum for the next nine months. It reminded me of Tudor England, when it was customary for the person having his or her head cut off to pay the executioner a few pieces of silver to ensure a clean, sharp swing of the blade.

I thought it best not to return their smiles. Instead I mustered my best condescending teacher face to remind them of who they were really cheering for. That sobered several of them, casting a dark gloom over our entrance until I was well out of sight.

Central's teachers, along with the troubled staffs from a few other schools, were assigned the nose bleed section of the venue, far out of the camera's gaze, . Our gum chewing, unshaven faces, cussing and untucked shirts were noticed by those closest to us. Their stares were met with excellently aimed spit balls. There is no saving us. We climbed the mountain. We saw the promised land, and then decided to have a sit down and nap.

Mrs. Abigail Timms receiving forgiveness for spending her entire summer doing nothing classroom related,no inservice classes, no extra reading, and no university courses. She even bypassed her grade level's correlation bonus days. "The Summer's idleness be GONE FROM YOU!" the administrator shouted.
She fell backwards, felt the call, and ran around the congregation four times shouting, "The fire is in my heart!" while waving a white handkerchief high over her head as a sign of surrender and rebirth. Many "Hallelujahs" followed.

It's getting late here at the Space Center. We are in the middle of our last Super Overnight Camp of the Summer Season. The halls are darkened and layed out for awesome away teams. Emily and her staff have things in control, giving me the chance to lay down in the Magellan and rest my eyes for a moment before putting the campers to bed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Space Education Center Opens Tomorrow for the School Year Season

Children forming a Que to get on a bus for Wonderland and the Space Center.
There is order now. That will change and chaos expected once the announcement is made that all available missions for opening day are reserved. Wonderland's shop keepers are boarding their windows in case of rioting. The Constables carry stink bombs and super soakers if the situation on the streets gets out of hand.
"This is Wonderland, not London," the Chief Constable said. "There will be peace."



Hello Troops,
Word is spreading that the Space Center is opening tomorrow for the 2011/12 school year season. The Wonderland Transport Authority made preparations for the opening, anticipating an increase in ridership. All standby trains and buses will be drafted into service. The Underground Service will open earlier with the first trains leaving the World of Here and Now for Wonderland at 3:00 A.M. The Imaginarium, Wonderland's largest industry, announced all vacations and requests for personal leave will be discouraged for a fortnight.

"We need all hands on deck," bellowed the Head of Personnel during a staff meeting held earlier today. "No vacations or personal leave allowed....." He paused for a moment to think through his next statement. He cleared his throat, looked at his assistant over labor affairs, and continued. "And I'll be very very sceptical of anyone calling in sick. With the Space Center back in full operation, the world's children will again be accessing their higher level brain functions. Imaginings will be exiting our portals at a phenomenal rate."

His assistant shook her head knowing her boss couldn't restrict employee sick days. She knew it was his way to sometimes speak before thinking. She also knew she would be busy putting out fires once the Imagineering Union caught wind of her Director's directives.

With few seats available on public transport, children and Imaginarium employees are finding creative ways to get to the Space Center.



Maureen Trudy Eddy found one of Wonderland's old entrances, not used since the end of the last world war. This entrance will take her from the World of Here and Now directly to the northern most end of There and Back Again Lane. There are many such entrances to Wonderland, all built during the war to help children escape the horrors of a world gone mad and find refuge in a happier place.



Jordan Spun set off for the Imaginarium by dog sled several weeks ago from the far north . The Siberian Poodles are bred to withstand Wonderland's cold and unfriendly Poles. Antoinette is the lead poodle. She keeps the other dogs in line with a bark and cold stare if necessary.




Fiona Maglebee McPhey is properly dressed for the opening but may be delayed due to a puncture on her bicycle. She is rather upset and wonders why her Mummy or Poppy are not present to address the problem.

"Mummy and Poppy are always right here when I need them," Fiona said between sobs when it became apparent she lacked the skill to repair the puncture without soiling her new dress with extra frills.




Peter Bowls Buffin is a stubborn child. He missed his train and was last seen hitchhiking along the W1, Wonderland's main highway joining the World of Here and Now to the Central Station. He has a seat on the Magellan's 7:45 A.M. Wednesday mission. It is an appointment he made himself without his parent's permission or knowledge.

We have an update on Peter Bowls Buffin. He was picked up a cousin who also happens to have a ticket on the same mission. They are currently fueling and resupplying at a truck stop. Peter called his mother and told her where he was and not to worry. Peter's mother agreed to let him continue. He will be grounded for two weeks when he returns. Peter says the punishment is deserved but he couldn't let his ticket go to someone else.

"No kid is that generous with a Space Center ticket," he told the waitress at the truck stop cafe where the pair were eating their supper.

"I never been," the waitress said.

"You've not been to the Space Center?" Peter was surprised. He thought every kid had a chance to go to the Center at least once before their imaginations petrified.

"Not Never," the waitress emphasised her statement by tapping Peter on his head with a spoon. She paused to see if Peter caught her meaning. Peter shrugged his shoulders and returned to his grilled cheese and soup. She frowned, wondering if Peter was rude or just born thick headed. "You could help a girl out by giving up your ticket. I'd be ever so grateful." The waitress smiled and tickled Peter on the chin.

"Do I look stupid to you? Push Off!" Peter voice startled the old couple in the booth beside theirs.

The waitress slapped the bill on the table, replaced her order tablet in her apron and walked in a huff. Peter returned to his supper. His cousin commented how lucky they were to already have their food.

Mr. Lawrence Liverpool, the Director of Legal Affairs for the Imagineer's Union, is on his way to the Imaginarium. The union president called him about the Director of Personnel's earlier comment regarding employees and the company's sick time policy. In his briefcase is a copy of the union's contract. The parts covering sick days are highlighted in yellow. Mr. Liverpool is not happy. He and his wife are expected at the Wilbur's home at 6:00P.M. for dinner and a few hands of bridge. This unwanted, unwarranted and unwelcomed disruption to his schedule will cause Wonderland's most punctual couple to be twelve minutes late to their dinner party . Mr. Liverpool is not happy and is considering using street language in his meeting with the Director.
Do you have your tickets to a Space Center Mission reserved?

I'll see all of you soon.

Mr. W.