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Monday, November 26, 2012

Answers to Your Questions and Your Comments and Suggestions on the New Center

Hello Troops,
I've had several responses to the dream center design submitted by Alex DeBirk.
They are all being read and considered.

I'd like to begin tonight's post by answering more of your questions posted as comments to the blog or sent directly to my by email:

David C asked:
I was just wondering, if or when the space center reopens will the attending age of campers be raised?
I think we are leaning in that direction for field trips.  We'd like the new Center to have something for all grades 1 to 12.   Remember, there is a question on whether or not overnight camps will be a part of the new Center.  The district committee will decide and make a recommendation to the school board for their decision.  
Anonymous wrote:
Are there any more pictures of the falcon? What was it like?
Sorry, I've posted all I have.  Perhaps someone out there has more they would be willing to share with all of us.  
I never ran the Falcon.  I'll ask two of the Falcon's flight directors to write about the ship and post their essays on the blog. 

Anonymous wrote:
Im confused.... Is the district in the favor of moving us or keeping us here?
I'm guessing you mean keeping us here at Central.  We can stay at Central if the lot next to the school is big enough for the new Space Center building and a parking lot.  There is some doubt it is big enough. 

Some Silly Staff Wrote:
Keep in mind that we may still be able to run certain ships during the re-build... Does that mean we could pull in some more money for the building? 
Yes, if we can get a few ships open and we can have access to them.  Right now, I'm having trouble just getting into the Space Center.  It is getting very frustrating when the Director of the Center (me) has to justify why he wants into the Center to the custodians who have the key.  They may be afraid I'll stick my fingers into one of the electrical sockets :)     

Anonymous wrote:
When we get a couple ships open at Central should we rename a ship the USS Victor Alan? Or the USS Williamson?
Thank you for the compliment but I'm not so sure that would be a good idea.  Our simulators are named after NASA space probes.  I'd like to continue that tradition.
Your New Center Ideas

Having the planetarium in the center will be an issue because of noise and class movements in and out. We also need a much larger classroom space to accommodate all those kids when not in the simulators. The class/planetarium are just as important as the simulators to the field trip program. The cafeteria needs to be large enough to fit a minimum of half our field trip capacity at a time. I've got my own plans somewhere I'll send in.

I like the variety in what Alex is suggesting- that is, building two large ships and four small ones in addition to keeping the Galileo. What is a magnet school, though, and why is the district so in love with the idea of expanding the CMSEC into a magnet school?

I would love to see programs for 7-12 graders, because the magic can't just stop when you hit 14. :) I love the new design. Very Modern and it incorporates space well. I really like the idea of many more ships. We should try to save the Odyssey or at least rename one of those ships (If this will be the design) the Odyssey or Voyager. :D

I really like the new layout, but something worries me. I think that each of the simulators should have a different shape (or at least different furniture placement...) If all the simulators were the same it might remove the incentive to try the other ships. It is impressive to think that there might be eight simulators working at the same time! I also like the flexible space because it would allow each ship to do their own away missions without worrying if another ship's crew is in the hallway. Anyway, those are just my two cents...

I have to agree with the idea of having different simulator shapes. Or maybe not even different shapes, but make every one unique in it's own way. And this is just an idea, but maybe we could design some or all of the "flexible space" to represent a starship. Central's hallways were a bit of a shift from a high-tech spaceship. And programs for 7-12 graders is a GREAT idea. Emphasis on GREAT.

2 things: Although I would love to see stuff for grades 7-12 I think that if faced with a choice between the two the focus should be on the yonger people. And also, since the Galileo is moveable, will it be at the new center or stay at Central?

Yeah, I think the ships should be different. Maybe you could still incorporate the design of the old ships, like recreate them as one of the new ships. It's gonna take lots more volunteers!

I liked how the ships were different sizes and all were really different on the inside too, but you might have a reason why they are the same size, thanks for all you do!

I love the layout, but I'm a little nervous about having 4 small ships all squished together. There are times when the crew on the Odyssey can hear the crew on the Phoenix, and having 4 ships simultaneously running may have strange moments of sound bleeding through.

Be sure to look at traffic flow patterns- and noise flow patterns. It would save eardrums if different ships and planetariums and classrooms didn't have to compete. I like the spoke pattern as a basic flow plan, but why does it seem biased towards the simulators, with the classrooms added as an afterthought? (The staff lounge areas seem bigger than the classrooms) How about one quadrant be the educational section, with a demonstration room instead of a 4th large simulator (it can be modified eventually, but begins more like a cooking show demonstration lab with cameras set up to show experiments from multiple angles) and the plain classrooms and a set of bathrooms. I like the quadrant with the shuttle and shop and reception area. That corner seems like the best place for the parking lot.

The use of space should be aligned with the mission and purposes of the new center. If we're still teaching merit badges and programming, space needs set aside for that. What are the mission and purposes of the Space Center?

Just a few thoughts from a long-time observer,
Good luck.

That new design idea looks great; there are so many things that we don't have now that would be great to have in the future! I know one thing that we often had to deal with was running into crews who were just entering the school while our own crew was on an away mission (or the staff was getting things ready). It looks like the crew could get to the "Flexible Space" areas, which I assume would be used for away missions as well as other things. Would there be any way to get the staff to these locations without walking through the main hallways?

I really like what you want to put into the new center, but I'm kinda iffy on the placement (also 9 simulators!!!!). I think there should be more of a clear split between where the simulators are and where the classrooms are, so that there's less chance of them running into each other during away missions (and it'll help with sound problems, especially with the planetarium right in the middle of 4 simulators, unless you want 40+ screaming kids being heard in the middle of a presentation).

I'm also a bit worried about having the 4 small simulators clustered right next to each other. Loading and unloading will be really chaotic, and again with the 4 large simulators, it'll be really loud. I think you should spread the simulators around.

And, like the previous poster, make all of the simulators unique. It'll be a bit boring with only 3 "different" ships that you can be in. A few related notes, will there be areas to do briefings? Where will the brigs be for the large simulators?

Finally, make the new center feel like a starbase in the Federation. It'll really help people get into the mood.

Make note that the following is purely based off of my own speculation, and in no way is confirmed or is an actual list of what is needed. This just shows a ballpark range of what is needed if the new space center is based off of this design and all 9 simulators are opened at once. - M. Ricks

Assuming that each of the large simulators will each be the size of the Voyager: 9 to 11 crew, and each of the small simulators are the size of the Odyssey: 6 to 8 crew, plus the Galileo in the Shuttle bay: 5 to 6 crew, that evaluates to be 65 to 82 campers for a full camp. In order to staff this camp, you would need 9 flight directors, 8 supervisors, 5 volunteers per large ship, 3 volunteers per small ship, and 2 for the galileo, + the Director + anyone else that sticks around mainly M. Ricks, the onsite technician, that evaluates to be around 53. That's about 135 people for a maxed out camp. That isn't including any classroom sessions going on. That's a lot of people. Assuming that everyone eats 2 donuts and 1 cup of milk/orange juice, that would be over 20 dozen donuts, and over 8 gallons of milk and orange juice every overnight camp. Plus the banana's, clementines, and the gogurts.

The total amount of computers on the bridge of a small ship would be 7 assuming there is 8 crew members. In the control room of those small ships, you'd have to include the core, a potential auxcore, the sound fx, the music, the tactical, and possibly a video computer. Which turns out to be an average of 5 computers per control room for the small ships. For the big ship control rooms, you are going to have around 9 computers in those control rooms, and on the bridge of those ships, you will have an average of… well, Magellan has 30 on the bridge, and the Voyager has 17, so a reasonable amount I would say would be 20. So you'd have 20 computers on each of the large ships. The Galileo has a total of 10 computers. Then you'd have one computer for the staff, as well as a few prop computers, we'll say 5, and also the computer possibly in the gift shop, and the computer for the reception area, and the computer for each of the classrooms, one for the Director, and at least one computer for the guild hall, and one server for the entire space center. So in total, just for computers, you'd have around 186 active computers doing a purpose of some sort, and 1 server. Hardly any of these computers should be accessing the internet, but they should all be on the same network. Currently, concatenating all of the computers the space center (just the ones that we would be able to transfer over to the new center, so nearly all the voyager and Magellan computers will not be included) we would have about 50 computers that we would be able to bring over from the old center to the new one. These are not all top of the line computers, many of them are old ibooks, or the white iMacs. Assuming that to get the mac minis that we need (not the new ones because our programming would not fit that) my guess would be $500 each for a refurbished mac mini with the correct operating system and the correct amount of ram and such that includes a monitor. That is about $68000 in computer costs alone. That doesn't include programming, or any other hardware required for the computer to even be used such as keyboard and mouse.

DVD Players:
Flat out, we'd need 35 DVD players, but we probably have that covered already.

Sound Systems:
I'm not an expert in sound systems, but from what the space center currently has in supply right now is not enough. We have 8 sound boards in total. We'd need at least 4 new sound systems if the old ones are going to be reused.

These are probably the most fluid of all because it's all up to the design of the ship, but if each simulator ran with 1 TV, we'd need about 25 TV's in total which includes 1 TV on the bridge of all simulators, a preview TV in the control room, a TV for the staff, TV's in the classroom, as well as a few other misc. TV's such as in the reception area, or the gift shop. The space center currently uses 10 Flat Screen TV's, 17 CRT TV's, and 3 Projectors, totaling to be 30 about 30 TV's in active use. As for storage, we have 1 flat screen, and 2 Projectors, and many Mini CRT TV's (used to be used in the Magellan)

With nearly the entire programming department leaving for LDS missions within the next few years, you would need to get things solidified right now so they can work on it as much as possible, or higher other programmers, as well as train new technicians to handle the computers and video and sound systems, and the network. This just might need a full blown district technician.

The following is what I would I think would be a valuable addition to this design of the Space Center.

A Museum - to show all the history of the space center, from it's grass roots to the current simulators, and all the people, thought, and technology that has gone into the space center over the years.

A second floor - I think a second floor is not necessary, but would be highly convenient. This second floor could allow for the flexible space to have higher ceilings to allow for possible large projections to be placed on the walls, a fly system to by put in place, variable lighting, variable floor levels and movable walls etc. The 2nd floor would also be nice to have as a way for staff to quickly get from ship to ship without having to duck, dodge and sneak our way through away missions that are being held on the lower floor. The simulators could have raised ceilings, and as a result, the lighting fixtures of simulators could be accessed from the 2nd floor, as well as any vents or secret doors that would allow for the Slime Devil to enter and scare the crew. The 2nd floor can also be used as an "Observation Deck" with darkened glass or one way windows for parents or other observers to watch the simulation without crowding flight director in the control room. The 2nd floor could also house additional classrooms, sleeping areas, or planetariums.

The sickbays - The sickbays are secluded from the rest of the ship, which may mean that the camper may feel secluded from the action of the main story. If possible, the sickbays should be brought more towards the action of the main bridge. I would suggest this, or make the sickbay incredibly open, or have 2 medical officers. The medical program has to be carefully integrated so it doesn't become a dreaded job. This may be harder also if we try to integrate the medical station into IIFX. In the Voyager, right now a dedicated supervisor is assigned to the medical officer. We may have to do some experimentation with the medical station, but it is incredibly delicate. This probably should be discussed with the Medical Supervisors though.

All in all, I love the design. I love the idea of eventually having 9 ships. There will need to be a lot of barricades and such built for use in the flexible space, but I feel it is the best design for our needs and it provides plenty of space for future expansion if needed.

Why so much wasted space? we really don't need a sick bay in every ship we don't need all the dorms if we don't offer over nighters and we have worked fine with the space at the space center anything more than that is just being wasteful

If possible, I think the new space center should have at least 2 floors. It would be cool to have the hall ways look futuristic so that students can do away missions. Each simulator should be a different shape, size, and have different technology to make them each a different learning experience. You could make the Planetarium on the second floor above the simulators to avoid noise. The new space center would be cool if it involved grades k-12 and if it offered classes that other school don't offer like programing classes, engineering, and robotics. It would be sweet if the space center had different rooms for people in the simulators to explore, like a room that looks like a engineering bay, weapons room, or like mars with dirt and rocks.

Here is some ideas I have.. although some might not be realistic
• The new space center should be built with the intention to expand later on.
• Have 2 Floors

• Planetarium on the second floor
• A Simulator with 2 floors, or 2 floors with a opening. (kinda like a balcony)
• Make it a school and offer classes through k-12
• Offer different classes, such as programing classes(HTML, JAVA, Visual Basic, etc), Engineering, and robotics, etc
• Make each simulator with a different shape, size, and with different technology
• Use newer(touch screen, iPads) and classic technology(computers)
• Lazer Tag?
• Make the Hallways look like Hallways of a space station/ship and provide away missions
• Have another rooms for each simulator, or rooms for all the simulators to go to such as a engineering bay, weapons room, mars(room with rocks, and dirt that could be used to teach geography)

Preserving all of the Space Center's camps and programs should still be considered a priority. Cut-paste the current infrastructure into the new building, as-is, then use all extra space that would otherwise have been a hallway or "flexible" space as added living space for overnighters or room for away missions. It's a simple solution across the board. Of course, we could always add more ships with extra "free space", but wouldn't you want to use that space for away missions? Best not to try to fix something that isn't broken--so to speak--and keep what works and capitalize on any leftover space for what it would have been used for if the current Center had been allowed to stay open. By doing all of the above--you would skip a lot of unnecessary headache in the planning process for moving the current Center into the new building.

It's always a good idea to add more "decks" to a larger simulator as possible for added station numbers, realism and authenticity. The Magellan was in the process of getting its own "Deck 2" or "Engineering". It would make sense to incorporate that idea if there is space to capitalize on for that ship/space station. It really wouldn't make much sense to give the smaller ships more physical decks. No need to rename anything, but we could build more small ships to supplement larger groups for longer camps and programs.

With the new space center layout idea, I didn't like how the simulators were the same. What was fun about the old one is that each sim. is different. The Phoenix is different than the voyager, and not just by the missions. It makes it feel like you are a rotating officer on star fleet, and not just assigned to one ship. But that's just my opinion. I do, however, like the idea of a gift shop. I just wish they had that when I went.

I too have a layout idea, I just have to draw it out. 

Hope you get it up and running soon, I want to work again.

Hi Vic,

Here are my thoughts and comments about the new "dream" Space Center.  Feel free to share them on the blog as desired.

Being smart with space
As Alex pointed out, big ships lead to higher expenses, both in upfront construction and ongoing maintenance.  However, I think there are lots of ways to use space creatively to get the most bang per square foot.  For starters, the ships don't need to be as big as depicted in Alex's design.  It's hard to tell the exact dimensions, but each large ship looks like it's about 35' x 70' or a total of about 2,400 sq ft.  In contrast, the simulator I'm building in Pittsburgh is about 20' x 25' or a total of 500 sq ft, and it still fits 16 students with room to spare.

That said, my ship doesn't include a separate engineering area, sickbay, or dorm.  These areas aren't required, but they do go a long way toward making a missions more awesome.  A possible option is to build vertically, with these extra areas underneath the bridge.  All you'd need is a multi-floor building (or a warehouse style building with high ceilings) to pull it off.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Another design I had when concocting my own visions of a "Space Center on steroids" is a large multipurpose area for away missions.  The area could be shared by multiple ships (only one using it at a time, just staggering the away missions so they don't overlap), and it could be decorated to suit whatever settings the missions call for.  The same could be done with the "extra" areas like lower decks, sick bay, etc... let two adjacent ships share these by staggering their use.  It would take a bit of careful scheduling, but it could reduce the overall space requirements.

Bigger isn't necessarily better
Even though the ship I'm building can sit 16 kids, if I had my druthers I'd probably prefer two 8-person ships.  The two ships could run separate missions, or they could be networked together for collaborative missions.  The software I've created for my simulator support networked ships, so that opens up lots of cool new possibilities.  The other advantage to smaller ships is that they offer higher utilization—Little Johnny's may not have 16 friends, but he can still have his birthday party in a smaller ship... and if someone brings an entire family reunion, they'd just use several small ships at once.

My Own Dream
Ever since I was a kid attending the Space Center for the first time I dreamed of building my own... and making it huge!  Disneyland scale!  It would be designed like a giant space station and each simulator would have an airlock or shuttle taking you do it.  Oh, and best of all, there'd be a roller coaster that would pick people up in the parking lot and bring them inside.  If none of my other suggestions end up being helpful, please at least try to install a roller coaster to and from the parking lot.  :)
Gary G.

I'm going to go back to our original design for a new building that we drew up a year or two back. I really like the idea of having a central medical center that is shared by all the simulators that also coordinates all of the away missions. It would have TV's showing cameras of the away mission areas and have communication with all the control rooms.
As for the simulators needing to be different, we discussed giving each a square room and then each Set Director is given freedom to customize the ship as they see fit, keeping in mind that the simulators have to have X number of stations in them.
One of the things I would also love to see would be a shared engineering room. This room would contain all of the activity panels that would be used in 'manually' fixing the ship. If we did it right, we could make the panels nearly maintenance free, and any required maintenance would be very easy. Since the medical center would be shared, the engineering room would probably have to be on a separate floor, accessible from the bridge of each ship.

Away from the simulators, I also really liked the idea of having a waiting room/lounge near the entrance that parents could wait and watch/listen to the crews on the simulators.

And don't forgot, we want spots to put iPads/iPods, as it will be very easy to link those up to the rest of the ship controls.

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