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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Space, In the News.

Frustrating Spacewalk

Akihiko Hoshide on end of robotic arm.

Not everything goes right in space.

The first spacewalk for Expedition 32 occurred on August 20, with cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Yuri Malenchenko Their tasks included moving a cargo boom from the Pirs docking module to the Zarya module, installing micrometeorite/debris protection shields on the Zvesda module, and the deployment of a small science satellite. That spacewalk met its objectives.

Computer graphic of spacewalk in mission control.

Yesterday's spacewalk didn't go as well. Astronauts Suni Williams and Akihko Hoshide (from Japan) were supposed to replace a power bus on the station's main truss, prepare power cables for the docking of a Russian Science Module in the future, and replace a camera on one of the robotic arms. However, the Main Bus Switching Unit had bolts that refused to tighten correctly. Running out of time for the walk, they had to simply secure it to the truss temporarily until another spacewalk could be scheduled to repair the bolts. Before the problem, though, they did move the power cables. They had unfortunately run out of time to replace the robotic arm camera.

Nightside picture of spacewalk on August 20.

Akihiko Hoshide. This spacewalk was not only the first for Hoshide, it was the third spacewalk made by a Japanese astronaut.

Suniya (Suni) Williams floating around the ISS with a camera. Yesterday was her fifth spacewalk. She's getting good at it!

Neil Armstrong is Remembered

Neil Armstrong, official NASA photo. Known as a "WSS," or "White Space Suit" image, this type of portrait became the iconic image of the American Astronauts.

It was inevitable, you know. Last Saturday the family of astronaut Neil Armstrong announced that he had passed away due to complications from heart surgery performed a couple of weeks before. Born in 1930, Armstrong was 82 when he died.  All of our Apollo astronauts are getting along in age. Some have passed on already, like Alan Shepard (First American in space, and commander of Apollo 14) and Jack Swigert (command module pilot, Apollo 13). The Apollo astronauts all remain in our hearts as heros of space education.

But Neil Armstrong, and his Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, have the distinction accorded to few astronauts who have ever flown. Because of their famous and dangerous first landing on the Moon in the Apollo 11 mission, their names are forever enshrined in our memories. Perhaps because school textbooks have only so much space for history, or perhaps because television documentaries mention them more than the others, it seems to me that theirs are the first astronaut names that come to mind of the general public.

I know this, because for years, working at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, I have questioned children and adults alike as they visited us. I've asked "trivia questions" to see what the general public really knows about our space exploration history. And I've come to several generalized conclusions:

1) Ask any kid "which  astronaut" did whatever, and their first response is almost always Neil Armstrong. Asked to name a second astronaut, they often respond Buzz Aldrin (although some kids enjoy saying, "Buzz Lightyear".

2) Older people always know about Apollo 11. Some people remember Jim Lovell in command of Apollo 13 (thank you Tom Hanks and Ron Howard!).

3) Many older people remember Alan Shepard as the first American in space, but have forgotten that he also walked on the Moon (and played golf there!).

4) Many people remember a Russian was first is space, and half of them remember his name was Yuri something.

5) The number of kids and adults who have a good knowledge of the other astronauts in space history is rare.

With the passing of Neil Armstrong, I've enjoyed talking to people about what they remember that incredible day of July 21, 1969. Everyone who witnessed it on TV remembers where they were and what they were doing. It was a world-wide event, and one of those generational moments when the world and nation came together in awe. I won't go into Armstrong's career here, as there are many other tributes being published this week. But I would like to take a moment and let you know that Neil was not alone, he served with a team of heroes that prepared for and/or went to the Moon, and here they are:

Apollo 11: Neil Armstrong (deceased 2012), Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins
Apollo 1:   Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White II, Roger Chaffee (All perished in the Apollo 1 fire-1967)
Apollo 7:  Wally Schirra (deceased 2007), Don Eiselle (deceased 1987), Walt Cunningham
Apollo 8:  Frank Borman II, Jim Lovell, William Anders
Apollo 9:  James McDivitt, David Scott, Russell (Rusty) Schweickart
Apollo 10: Tom Staffard, John Young, Eugene Cernan
Apollo 12: Pete Conrad, Jr (deceased 1999), Richard Gordon, Alan Bean
Apollo 13: Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert (deceased 1982), Fred Haise
Apollo 14: Alan Shepard Jr (deceased 1998), Stuart Roosa (deceased 1994), Ed Mitchell 
Apollo 15: David Scott, Alfred Worden, James Irwin (deceased 1991)
Apollo 16: John Young, Thomas "Ken" Mattingly II, Charles Duke
Apollo 17: Eugene Cernan, Harrison "Jack" Schmidt, Ronald Evans (deceased 1990)

Please remember them all.

Mark Daymont,
Space Center Educator

Rumors, Rumors and a Diet Dew.

 Hello Troops,

Yesterday was Back to School Night at Central Elementary School.  This is the night when parents get to meet and talk to their children's teachers.  Parents get a good look at us and we get to meet them.  Parent / teacher partnerships make the foundation of a good school, and Central is a very good school!

I've spent nearly thirty years at Central.  I student taught here in 1983 and did a good enough job to land the one 6th grade opening they had for the 1983/84 school year.  I had 35 students in a classroom with no carpeting, no phone and no air conditioning.  Reel to reel film projectors were high tech.  Things have changed a lot since then.  You younger readers don't know how good you have it today.

On my way to Back to School Night, I stopped at the PTA display in the school's foyer to say hello to the ladies running the information and enrollment table. 

"Victor, when are you going to reopen the Space Center?" Lisa Young asked.  Lisa is the heart and mind of Pleasant Grove.  She runs the city's youth court and is the number one supporter of all her children's schools.  Lisa was at the membership table using her powers of persuasion to nicely convince everyone coming to the meeting to join the PTA.  A large jar of salt water taffy drew the children straight to the table.  The parents followed.  "How about joining the PTA?" she'd ask as junior shoved his little hand into the jar. 

"Lots of work to do in there,"  I replied.  "We want to make sure everything is perfect before we reopen.  Everyone wants the job done as quickly as possible."

"My sister is getting several calls and emails from teachers in the Jordan District asking if they are going to get their Space Center field trip."  Lisa's sister was an award winning teacher at Bluffdale Elementary and Space Center enthusiast who never missed bringing her classes on field trips.  She is now at the Jordan District Office.

"They need to email me and I'll keep them updated."

"They all heard a RUMOR that you were retired and the Space Center was closed for good.  I'm talking panic here."

"Well, I'm not retired, I'm right here and the Space Center is closed temporarily.  All is good.  Tell her to tell our Jordan District teachers to get in touch with me and I'll keep them updated."

Lisa's attention shifted to a group of potential PTA members standing beside the salt water taffy jar.  I continued down the hall toward the gym wondering where the rumor that I had retired came from. The rumor was false.  I've not retired.  I'm still here, somewhat alert and going strong. 

Rumors can spread like fire, especially in our hungry social media world. Its like opening a feather pillow and tossing its contents into the wind.  You'll never get rumors back once they're released, so don't rely on rumors for accurate information.  Always go to the source. It is foolish to believe everything you hear around the water cooler.

The source for accurate Space Center information can always be found on this blog and our web site. 

What is the Latest News?

Alpine School District's Maintenance Department is spearheading this project.  They are doing a good job moving things along as fast as possible.  This project could be expensive, so great care must be given when spending Space Center funds.

The Alpine District is dedicated to providing the best learning experiences to the children in our communities. That is why the District supports the Space Center, and has done so for nearly 22 years. In my opinion, our District is the best in the state. What other District would embrace such a strange, out there, and I mean way out there, educational experience like the Space Center?

The Alpine District is a learning community where new, fresh ideas are always welcome.  The Space Center is fortunate to be a part of such an organization.

I'm going to finish my lunch, enjoy my afternoon Diet Dew and get back to work.

Have a Great Weekend Troops!

Mr. W. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Well Worth your Time

Hello Troops,
This will be well worth your time if you have an interest in the Mars Curiosity Rover.  I might go myself.  Hope to see you there. 

Mr. W. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our Weekend at the Imaginarium

Hello Troops,

I've started a new mission for the Voyager, Odyssey, Phoenix and Galileo.  I'll post more on the mission writing process soon.   I know many of you have mission ideas rattling around in your brains.  I also know many of you seek direction on how to transfer those great ideas into a usable mission at the Space Center.

Patience Padawan.  All will be made clear.....

So, what do we do while we wait for the reopening of the source of all imaginative genius?  We take a stroll through the Imaginarium to see what others are doing to make this world a better, more lovable place.   Got your walking shoes on.  Got your umbrella?

You're right - what rain?

 Follow me........

Why a boring yellow sticky note when a bit of creativity 
and imagination can give us these?

The New Math

Fortuna and her minions are on our doorstep
(as if the Space Center doesn't have enough problems as it is)

Goodbye to a great American hero.

From Tim Burton's back garden.

Again I ask, 
Gray or something more interesting? 
An Imaginarium favorite.

An electrical junction box here in Wonderland near the north entrance of the Imaginarium

Security chief:  "Captain, I'm here on the surface

Voyager Captain:  "What do you see?"

Security Chief:  "The ship's sensors are right.  This planet is Earth like.  I'm standing in a dense forest.  The lack of leaves tells me it must be either Fall or early Winter."

Voyager Captain:  "Are we ready to beam the science team down?"

Security chief:  "All clear for .........wait.  I hear something.  Stand by."  


Let nature do its job.

Not even rainbows can protect you from the Sith Lord

Kid Cinema.
Can you Name the Films?

The next item to read on my book shelve if the Space Center doesn't open soon!

And lo and behold, a great darkness spread across the land.  KAOS descended upon the world, inhaling human joy and inspiration as fuel.  Who will protect them now that their champions are gone?

A lesson in evolutionary payback

The Imaginarium Award for brilliant utilization of space on a subway.
If it saves the commuter time then it is good.

The process of creating a video game.

A lesson in government.
That was easy.

The two rules I live by.
Be smart.  Read and follow.

Poor parents, and what do they get in return?

At the Canadian border

The message is clear and concise.

The apparel of choice for everyone's second day of school

A modern Message in the Bottle.

Its off to the Jedi Temple with you.

In a Perfect World

 Creativity:  A 
Imagination: A
Choice of colors:  C

Have a Great Week Troops,

Mr. W.