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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Sister Ship Under Construction in Pennsylvania. Video Gaming and Education. Space News Update

Hello Troops,
Two posts in one day; wow, what did you do to deserver that?

I received an email from Gary Gardiner a few days ago.  Several photos were attached to the email detailing the construction of Gary's second simulator under construction in a large Pennsylvania elementary school with an $80,000 grant. The simulator will house 16 students.  You'll notice it is a multilevel bridge with one of our trademark spinning doors.

"We rescued that door from the dump," Gary told me in a telephone conversation earlier today. "They are difficult to find."

Gary has done extensive research in simulation education (it sounds a bit funny doesn't it?  Simulated education :)   His impressive research can be found on his web site 

Gary programmed his ship in Unity.  The tactical screen is controlled by the ship's controls.  His ship can function as a starship, a submarine and an inner body ship.  Be sure to check out his missions listed on his web site.   Each mission integrates the curriculum into the story line - something curriculum managers like to see.

I've invited Gary to partner with us as we work together to change the educational world.

This is Gary's email:
Hi Victor,
I just posted an update on the Dream Flight Adventures blog about our project replicating the Space Center's magic here in Pittsburgh, and I wanted to send you and the rest of the Space Center fans an update on our progress.  Please feel free to share this as a guest post on the Troubador, if you'd like.
For those of you just joining the action, my name is Gary Gardiner, and as a kid in 5th grade the Space Center caught my imagination and never let go.  I volunteered at the Space Center during college, and now that life has brought me and my family across the country to Pittsburgh I'm excitedly working to replicate the Space Center's magic in my neck of the woods.  Our first simulator is currently being installed inside the incredible Shaler Area Elementary School, which serves over 1,100 4th-6th graders. 
The simulator uses off-the-shelf tech components, including iPads, as well as my own custom 3D computer software (which I programmed myself, using skills I learned because of my inspiration at the Space Center so many years ago).  The simulator goes into outer space, back in time, under the sea, inside the body... wherever we can imagine.  It provides an excellent medium for storytelling, and I'm so excited to see the Space Center's unique blend of magic reaching another generation of kids. 
Here are some pics of the construction progress, and I'll be posting additional details on our blog:  I'll also be sure to chime in on the Troubador with updates as they occur.


Gary sent the following article on video gaming and student learning which I found interesting.  A short clipping from the article is below along with the link.
The popularity of video games is not the enemy of education, but rather a model for best teaching strategies. Games insert players at their achievable challenge level and reward player effort and practice with acknowledgement ofincremental goal progress, not just final product. The fuel for this process is the pleasure experience related to the release of dopamine.

Space News
Mark Daymont, Space Center Educator
From his blog,

ISS Expedition 33 Readies for Trip Home

Making a mess in the Destiny Module.

Ever notice how things get a little messy when you get ready for a trip? Looks like that's true off the planet as well as at home. Expedition 33 crew members Sunni WIlliams, Aki Hoshide, and Yuri Malenchenko are preparing everything they need for their upcoming flight home to Earth. 

On Saturday, Commander WIlliams will turn over command to astronaut Kevin Ford in the official Change of Command Ceremony. On Sunday, the three Expedition crew members will undock from the iSS in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for the de-orbit burn and re-entry through the atmosphere. Once they undock, Commander Ford will then officially be leading Expedition 34, along with cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin.

Expedition 34 will receive the second part of their crew in mid-December.

Unmanned Progress Resupply ship approaches ISS.

On November 1, Russia launched a Soyuz rocket lifting the Progress M-17M unmanned supply spacecraft into orbit. The trajectory of this mission enabled the craft to fly the "shortcut" path to dock with the ISS only a few hours later. The success of this mission paves the way to launching manned Soyuz capsules on the same trajectory in the near future, thus saving hours of cramped claustrophobic flight in the Soyuz craft. This Progress capsule brings astronaut supplies, and station life support and fuel supplies. Later the same day, another Progress ship docked at the station used its maneuvering thrusters to boost the ISS orbit in order to dodge some space debris.

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