A youngling at Shelley Elementary made me smile today. I was walking by the 2nd grade tables during lunch, checking on the little ones, helping them open those cursed Gogurts and showing the terminally confused where to find a place to sit - even if an open place was right in front of them. I love it.
"Mister?" A young boy's small hand reached out and grabbed my pant leg.
"What can I do for you?" I bent over to hear what he had to say. Kneeling would have been the preferred way to get down to his level, but with my unreliable knees I knew the youngling wasn't strong enough to hoist me back up!
"What are these?" he asked. He pointed to a collection of garbanzo beans gathered in the corner of the paper bowl holding his cafeteria lunch salad.
"Those are garbanzo beans," I replied. Using his index finger, he rolled a few of them around to examine their shape and size. His nose curled upward. His decision was made.
"They look like deer poop," was his verdict. I laughed. He didn't. He was serious.
"Try one, you might like it," was my challenge. He shook his head and dismissed my suggestion. I moved on only to be stopped a few minutes later by a 3rd grader who had spilt his chocolate milk all over his popcorn chicken.
"You can go back and ask for another tray," I suggested. He said it was OK.
"What are these?" he asked before I walked away. He pointed to something on his tray I couldn't identify. I ran the image through every memory circuit in my brain and came up with only one match. The cylinder shaped, orangeish, mushy objects on his styrofoam tray looked like the futuristic globules I saw on the food trays of the Starship Enterprise crew from the classic series of the late 1960's.
"They're sweet potato tater tots," one of Shelley's know it all girls answered from across the table.
I tried not to look shocked. I didn't want to color their opinion of the day's menu. "Are they good?" I asked.
"No," was her reply. "But I don't like sweet potato french fries either."
I left it at that and moved along. There were hundreds of students to sit and dozens of Gogurts to open.
And Now, Posts from the Past, Taken from the Space Center's First Blog
April 13, 2000
Posted by James Porter
In this post from 12 years ago, James is referring to a proposed two person simulator I wanted built in the Spring of 2000. The Spider was to function as a small engineering pod designed to travel through the ship on repair missions. It was never built. It is still on my wish list for the Space Center. I think it would be a very cool activity.
I am glad to announce the creation of a new simulator has been in the works for several months. Construction will begin in about a week.
The new simulator will be in the old Captain's loft. It is designed to hold two people. The ship is designed as an engineering scooter. It is assigned to be with the Voyager to repair any damaged
systems. There are two positions: Pilot and Engineer.
The simulator is due to open this summer. Yes, it will be "the smallest ship in the fleet," but the Galileo shall forever be none as "Mighty Mouse." Psst, if you're a claustrophobic, (you don't like
small, confined spaces) then don't plan on being in this simulator.
I, James Porter, am going to be the flight director for the simulator. I will try to keep you informed on it's progress. One of the features that will hopefully soon come is that the controls of
the pilot will be controlled completely by a joystick. I also shall try to write up a bio as Mr. Williamson requested. The scooter will be using Mac's and of course Hypercard.
-Talk to you later
"Bye James will miss you."
"Do you have my dollar?"
-No, I already paid you back.
"Can I borrow a dollar?
-No you take forever to pay me back.
P.S. The proposed name for the scooter is "Spider."
This is the basic "l"ayout for the Spider. `8~)
l l MIXER ll l l l l
l l CD ll ll ll l PRINT l
l l ll l l l l
l l ll l l l l
l l ll l l l l
l ME l CPU ll ll ll l CPU l
l l ll l l PILOT l l
l l ll l l l l
l l MIC ll l l l CPU l
l l ll l l l l
lllllllllllllllllllll lllllllll l l l l
lllllllllllllllllllll l l l l l CPU l
l l l l l ENGINEER l l
l l l l l l l
l l l l l l CAM l
April 18, 2000
Posted by Mark Daymont
In this post, Mr. Daymont joins in a discussion we were having on the correct way to write good missions.
I'm bored...I hope it doesn't get scruntched weird, if it does go ahead and delete this message.
I thought that Aaron had some good things to say about stories at the space center, and I want to clarify some things and expound on others.
1) Science Fiction Stories
When I look to a definition of science fiction, I turn to the author who had more to do with me becoming a science fiction fan than any other: Isaac Asimov. If you have not read Asimov, you are missing out on a truly wonderful part of Sci-fi. With Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and a couple others, they make up the vast part of the science fiction we enjoy today, for they influenced a great majority of SF authors.
Anyway, Asimov wrote: "Science Fiction is that branch of literature that deals with human responses to changes in the level of science and technology." Star Wars, for example, despite its technical
inaccuracies, is SF because the Death Star is a change in that technology and the Rebels must adapt. Teletubbies is not SF, even though they look and act like aliens, because they don't match the
definition. These stories then fit one of the following formulas (if they're good): Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Machine.
2) The Quality of Stories
I am a big fan of Disney Animation. Their big production animated movies are the best. In 1984, after Walt's death and the general failure of their animation division, Peter Schneider became President
of Feature Animation. He drills this principle into new animators:"One, create great characters with definite personalities. Two, give them exciting stories to act out.Three, push the boundaries
of animation as an art form and technology with each succeeding picture." There is no doubt this formula works, witness The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Great Mouse Detective, Alladin, and The Lion King which completely turned Disney around and morphed them
into a MEGAGIANT. Too bad their Live Feature division doesn't listen to Schneider. Their live action movies totally reek.
How does this apply to the Space Center?
1- Involve a character with a definite personality, whether an individual or a group.
2- Put them in an exciting SF story- but make it SF not space opera or fantasy.
3- Push the "envelope"; we don't always have to beat the last story with new props, but we need to definitely do something different or uncommon (not expected).
3) Space Center Stories
Folks, what we have here are EDUCATIONAL SIMULATORS working in a story environment. Therefore, education IS a central purpose to our existence. If you carefully look at each of Mr. Williamsons missions, you will soon see a pattern of education:
a) There is some special geographical location in space for the students to learn about;
b) The story involves a social studies background lesson from history as the context for the story; and c) the students are involved in one or more moral dilemmas which reflect directly on that social context.
And now, join me in a nice stroll through Wonderland's Imaginarium District.
Leave it to the Imaginarium's advertiser to find unique ways to capture the public's attention.
An awesomely creative way to remind people that biking saves them money!
A sticky note creation. Brilliant!
Unique in function and design. An Imaginarium Classic!
Polite and to the point.
Aztec Oreos for the Doomsdayist in your family.
Why not? Brillaint
An open invitation to all who pass on Wonderland's sidewalk.
Awesome! I'd immediately turn and give them my business just to show appreciation
for the creativity displayed in their sidewalk sign.
A perfect birthday cake for the creative child.
A child's Imagination
A unique wedding invitation.
Banned from every school worldwide.
In your world - odd and out of place.
Here in Wonderland - all in a day's work.
Find a need and make something to fill it.
The recipe for success.
Even professors can display a spark of imagination once in awhile.
A perfect use for old technology.
The most creative napkin holders to date.
It can clear a floor in 12 seconds flat.
And finally, a scene from your world.
Yes, even in the days labeled by today's young generation as "Old as mud"
certain groups were banned because they were too original.
They pushed the boundary of acceptability.