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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Who Pays for All This?

Sen. Jake Garn and Superintendent Steven Baugh at the Center's Grand Opening
November 8, 1990

Hello Troops,

 "When do we get to come back?!" is the question asked most often by the preteens and teens who attend our Space Center camps and private missions.  I like that question.  It tells me we are doing something right.

There are many museums, planetariums, clubs and camps that would love to hear their visitors ask that question more often. These organizations champion the cause for innovative education but sometimes forget one important aspect to survival in this industry -  a carefully blended mixture of education and entertainment.  The Space Education Center is one of the nation's best examples of a successful school / community partnership which unapologetically champions the inclusion of 'play' in its educational programs centered on the Utah Core Curriculum.

Carl Sagan's Message to the First Humans on Mars.  
The Dance Between Science and Science Fiction.  3 minutes

The Alpine School District houses the Center at Central Elementary.  The public supports the Center by attending Space Center field trips, private programs, camps and classes.  The fees charged for after school programs provide the funds to build new simulators, upgrade existing simulators, purchase new Starlab Planetariums and enrich our curriculum offerings.  All of this makes the Space Education Center a uniquely successful school / community / business partnership.

"Who pays for all of this?" is the second most often asked question at the Space Center.  It is asked by two types of people;  those hoping to prove the school district is wasting tax payer money, and those amazed that such a facility exists in a public school.

Public support of the Center also comes from the thousands of people who've volunteered over the years.   

I explain the Center's school / community partnership to both groups.  Those who ask in hopes of discovering extravagant waste are surprised to learn that most of our budget comes from people like themselves who send their children to our camps and classes.  They are impressed by the fact that THEY are the ones who provide much of the Center's budget through their attendance, fees and donations.  Those who ask out of amazement are surprised to learn that Central is a normal Title I neighborhood school.

"So, this isn't a special school for smart kids?" they ask.

The interior of the Phoenix Simulator.
Yes, it is an amazing place!

"Nope," I reply.  "This is neighborhood school just like the one your child attends."

"Amazing.  I never knew we had such a place.  This is amazing!"  is the usual response.

Who pays for all this?  You, the good people in our communities pay for this through your support of the Alpine School District and the Space Education Center.  I thank you for that support on behalf of the 24,000 people who attend our programs every year.  We ask for your continued support while the Center is closed for repair and improvements.

I know some of you had your camps and private programs canceled due to our renovation.  I apologize and remind you that the Center will be a better place when it reopens.

Thank you for your patience,

Mr. Williamson

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