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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our First Meeting. Your Comments and Questions. The Imaginarium

Hello Troops,

The school district's Space Center Committee met for the first time last Wednesday.  I believe there were 12 of us present and several observers.  I was unaware observers could attend. A section of the room was reserved for them.

I disagreed with a couple things spoken at the beginning of the meeting.  After the first few minutes, things brighten and the committee proceeded to get on to business.  Differing opinions are in the DNA of any group dynamic.  You may not like everything said, but everyone's opinions are necessary and important.

I was pleased to see many friends and acquaintances serving on the committee. Their comments during the meeting indicated a desire to see the Center continue to be successful and follow its 22 year tradition of being the best field trip in the state.

The district's maintenance director was helpful in searching for ways to get three of our simulators open as quickly as possible.  He took a few minutes to explain the process which led to the closing of the Center.  His explanation helped me understand the maintenance issues that needed to be resolved - giving further testimony to the importance of good communication to avoid misinformation and misunderstandings. 

He explained why the fire marshal classified the Space Center as an amusement - something that upset all of us who worked at the Center.  The classification was based on the fact that we held overnight camps and operated outside of school hours.  It was not meant to imply the Center was not educational.

Subcommittees were formed to explore both short term and long term Space Center goals and objectives.  I'm hoping at least one member of each subcommittee is familiar with the Space Center's standard operating procedures and programs.  It is difficult to envision the path ahead if one doesn't understand the path's source.  
In September I met with the management of Thanksgiving Point and presented my vision of a new Space Center and Alpine District school at their location.  They were interested in the proposal.  This past week, representatives of Thanksgiving Point met with district administrators to see if there was mutual interest in exploring a partnership. The meeting yielded positive results.  The Space Center committee will be discussing this possible partnership in a future meeting.    

The Space Center committee is committed to explore all options and possibilities.  A great deal of money will be spent on a new Center.  It is important our deliberations be done correctly and transparently.

Thank you for your patience as we resolve these issues.  It may be some time before we start field trips; I know the wait will be worth it.  This committee is made up of outstanding volunteers who have our student's and teacher's interests at heart.

I'm grateful they are willing to share their valuable time in this reconstruction endeavor.

Mr. W.

Your Comments and Questions

Shawn Wrote:
Alright let me just say for the record that I am so relived that we are opening a new space center!!!! I was kind of freaking out.

First off I think it would put a  sound resistant barriers in between the small ships. It doesn't have to be sound proof because the music in each ship will make it so you cant hear the others.And also
I think it would be a really good thing to have like little ipads or tvs in in the parent waiting room. Because I don't know about you guys but my mom really wants to see a little of what we do at the space center.And pleas don't get rid of overnighters. That and the 5 hr missions are all I have to look forward to in the summer. And those generate alot more income. You could use the flexible space and use cots. And you mite want to get started rite away. Because I'm not the only one that is having space center withdrawals. And If you could some how find a way to get the school board people to
let you run the Galileo you could generate some income. And are we going to use the same rank papers? And about the laser tag,I would not try it until the rest of the new center is complete. Because
it's really expensive. And if it ever happens then you mite want to find a way to reinforce them,and instead of wearing it the intire mission you could just have them be battle suits. Then the us kids would be less tempted to play with them. 

Well those are the suggestions I have, and thank you for not shutting down forever...
Thank you for your comments.  The Ranking System will continue into the new Center.  I reserved the right to tweak it a bit though.   

 Brandon E. wrote
I love the new design. I agree that we most likely need 2 floors but of course looking at the design. I love the way it is. All ages 1-12 should be able to participate. We staff need to keep the C lowest grade and a B average. I definitely agree with that. Lets keep everything the same on that plan in my opinion. BTW. Miss all of you staff members.
Thank you for your comments Brandon. I miss working with the Space Center's awesome staff and volunteers.  Hopefully we will be back to work soon.

Anonymous wrote
I just want to say that I really really dislike the idea of a magnet school. I just think it detracts from the actual space center. It would take funds, and to me it makes it seem like it would make the space center exclusively for the students at that school, or at least they would get priority. That doesn't work for me, because although I love the space center, I love my school. I say no to that idea. 
Thank you for your comments.  It wouldn't be much different than the way the Center is run now.  Remember, we are located at Central Elementary.  Central Elementary students have one advantage over other students - they are allowed to work in the Space Center during the day.  Magnet School students wouldn't get  extra Space Center opportunities outside of school time.  
J.M.  wrote
1. I like that this building isn't exactly square. I also like the idea posted on yesterday's post for each flight director to have some input on the design of their ship so each ship is different.
2. As for the field trip requirements, couldn't you accommodate ~37-48 students using all 7 simulators while a second class of ~37-40 is in the science class and Starlab? Could you make your Starlab presentation 15 minutes longer so both parts of the field trip take 1hr45min? What about setting up the Starlab in the assembly area- or did you want a separate place to set it up?
3. What are the pros to discontinuing overnight camps? Why would you discontinue them, especially if they're good moneymakers? A lot of kids would miss them.
4. Although I love the idea of having 7 total simulators (including USS Galileo), if you need more space for other things, you ought to be able to forgo one small simulator in favor of something else- like the Starlab.
5. Also, in light of some other comments from yesterday's post, shouldn't you/are you able to spread the ships out more, so you don't have to worry about different ships being able to hear one other? 
Thank you for your comments.  Several things to think about in this post.

Dallin wrote
I have four suggestion for this plan.
1. I think ideally it would be nice to have some more "flexible space" for away missions.
2. It would also be nice to add a 2nd story (or basement).
3. The idea of Matt L.'s on the joined engineer bay in GREAT.
4. One concern about the plan is the fact there are only two control rooms. This would be very crowded and loud.
Thanks for the suggestions.  You are right about the control rooms.  We are working to modify the plan. 
Scavola wrote
What would be in the portholes into space?
If it is completely unchangeable and would be left alone than an image of space could be put into the porthole instead (similar to the Space Mountain images of space in black plastic). That would remove the need to have the extra room, but the porthole could still look into space.
 Thank you for your comments. 

Anonymous wrote
As was mentioned before, many of the senior staff members will be gone when (if) the 3 still-safe simulators reopen. In that case, how will you fill the staff positions? Will you simply take the more experienced volunteers, or have a traditional "application and interview" system?
Thank you for your comments. Hopefully there will be enough staff and volunteers left to reopen. New volunteers will be brought on board.  Great volunteers will be trained to fill the places left by departed staff.  Others may need to be hired 'off the street'.  It will take some time to train them.

Anonymous wrote
How much more income do you think will be earned by the ships we will have up and running in central soon? Or will that not have a large enough impact to affect the design? And also we could have smaller boxes outside the porthole instead of one giant one. That would save space and still have the same effect. Other than that, I love the design! Not nearly a Dream Center, but it will still work and should still be pretty cool! 
Thank you for your comments. We won't be making a lot of money.  Most of the Space Center's income came from the camps.  We can't run Overnight Camps.  I'm not sure if the new Center will have them either.  It is something the committee must debate and the school board to decide. 
Miranda wrote

It looks to me like this design is short 4 control room. one for each of the smaller ships. And I also feel like we're back in with very similar ships again. The bigger ships could be flipped around to look different, but with the smaller ships it might be a bit more difficult. Though I much prefer this design.

How much would it cost to create an add on to house the planetarium?
Also, how will the smaller ships load?

This seems to be designed a bit more to what the space center would need in the sense of space between the ships, except for the larger ships, that could be problematic. However, it does seem to grant more space to us, which is good.
Thank you for your comments.  

John wrote

First off I would like to say that I have really liked the past two plans, and that Alex's hard work on this is really great. Also I understand that these are extremely prelimanary designs; but I figured I'd give my thoughts anway. My first thought on this one is where would away missions be taken to? At Central we had the stage, the Kiva, and the cafeteria where many away missions were held. In this design I'm not really noticing a place, other than the assembly area where an away mission could really be held. I guess that the classrooms could easily be converted into away mission areas for overnighter, so that is a possibility. My second thought would be on the larger simulators, for away missions taking the bridge, you may want to have some sort of hidden entrance. The place that seemed logical to me was behind the dorm rooms on each simulator.

Anyway, this is probably a little too much for such a preliminary design, but those are my thoughts.
Thank you for your ideas and suggestions.
Black Shirt wrote

1. Can we still run some of the simulators until we rebuild?

2. If not, can we still have the good bye party?

3. Can the staff help move the computers and props to the new space center, or mabey even help build some of the new simulators?
Thank you for your comments.  Yes, we will reopen three of our simulators (Magellan, Galileo, Phoenix).  
There won't be a 'goodbye' party.  I'm planning on a 'reopening' party!  
I have people who will help move things in and out.  Thank you. 

Anonymous wrote
does the intire school need to be re-wierd? Or just the center? Becuase 700,000 seems a bit much for just 5 simulators.... The old galileo sold for only 2,000...
Thank you for your questions. You can't believe how expensive it is to remodel or construct.  I know it seems like a lot, but that figure is an estimate to rebuild the Center. 

Keaton wrote
In my opinion, closing the camps would be a tragic mistake. They are what makes the space center truly open to the public, and an accessible activity. They also, as you said, provide most of the center's income, and I'm pretty sure everything would run smoothly if the center continued to be self-sufficient, not needing a budget from the district. As you said every single over night camp, you promised the district you wouldn't ask them for money, and I personally think it's better for everyone if that promise is kept in place.
Thank you for your comments.  I continue to believe the Center should be self sustaining, if at all possible.   

Anonymous wrote
Well, the planetarium could potentially be in assembly room. I'm not sure that would work, with the table and Galileo being in there, but there's just an idea. I'm not quite sure what is keeping the number at 33, but if it's the simulators, then it would completely depend on how many stations we wanted in there. If the large ships are like the voyager, and the small ships are like the odyssey and pheonix, then even without the galileo you could take over 37. Maybe my thought patterns messed up, but those are just some ideas. 
Thank you for your ideas and thoughts.

Patrick wrote
In details, both of the larger simulators look similar. Would any changes be made to create a variety between the two so that campers would have a different experience visually between them? What I found great about the simulators at central is that they were built and squeezed into the available space in the school so that each one offered something new and amazing. I know the outline for the center is still somewhat preliminary and might be changed. The plans do look amazing and I am excited for the new center. 
Thank you for your comments.  We hope to make the simulators look different.

Anonymous wrote
So for the new design, were would briefing happen? There didn't look like there was enough space for many briefings if they were all at once. 
Thank you for your comments.  Again, this is just a preliminary design.  

A Very Worried Teenager wrote
So, is some of the simulators open yet? If so, which? If not, when do you think they might? Frankly, I am very confused with all this commotion going on. 
Thank you for your comments.  I think your answers can be found in my comments to the questions above. 
Connor wrote
Mr. Williamson,

I hope you will be okay hearing from me a bit over the next few days or weeks. I have many ideas for the new space center to add to those already discussed, and I will try to present them in as clear a way as possible. I have limited time right now, so I will just give a simple idea first.

A few of the comments you have received have talked about the possibility of making the hallways fit in with the look and feel of the simulators, rather than just looking like a regular school. They have said that going from a futuristic simulator to a regular brick hallway creates problems for the suspension of disbelief. A simple way to do this is to incorporate mood lighting that is similar to that found in the Phoenix currently. Blue and red rope lights could be strung along a slit in the walls of the hallways, with a plastic panel to cover them (such as the one covering the Galileo nacelle lights). In some schools they have light switches that require keys to turn lights on and off or to switch lights, and a similar system could be used here. Flight directors could use a key to switch between blue and red lights depending on the purpose of an away mission. Hopefully the pictures I attached will help you know what I mean.

Also, from the experience of being a volunteer, I know that often times it was desired to have a hallway completely black with the exception of the prop rotating red lights. Emergency lights that stayed on even when the lights were turned off prevented this for the most part. This is a good thing, because safety really is essential. If the lights I have spoken about are set up the correct way, however, they may be able to be passed off as the "emergency lights" that are needed in the new building. This way the hallways could be kept relatively dark, and the futuristic experience would not be interrupted. I don't know what the likelihood of this is, but it is just an idea.

Good luck with all of your efforts!

Thank you for your comments, suggestions and the time and effort you took to make the pictures.  All excellent ideas!  thanks for sharing. 

Dallin wrote
I think there four problems with the realistic budget plan.
1. In the plan there are only 2 control rooms for the 6 simulators.
2. I think there should be more flexible space or thematic space for away missions.
3. I think a second story or basement would be a very wise investment for future space or flexible space.
4. This is not a problem but I like the idea of having a a joined engineering room. As well as some of the other ideas of Matt L.
"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."
I know that we are on a tight budget and not everything is possible, but we need to keep expansion in mind.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions Dallin.  

The Imaginarium, because we need a laugh or two.

One day, this will be real.
Well maybe not the ship.  I've never liked the original design 
of the starship.
I'd prefer something more like
Battlestar Galactica :)

The Champions of the Systems Medals.

We shall, it is only a matter of time.

A must for all of us who like to lean back in our chairs
(and fallen a few times in the process).

Imagination: A

So much better than writing
"Do not Disturb".
Creativity: A.

Elected representative are there to represent.
We are all in danger when power has puffed their chests 
and swollen their heads. 

Imagination: A

You don't get it do you?


We punish ourselves too much.
Be forgiving by forgiving yourself first
and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes,
others may just be better at hiding them.


 The things you see when walking the streets outside the Imaginarium

A throw back to the old Soviet Union.
 Most of my last paycheck is inside this machine!



Anonymous said...

The connection is that the pen rewinds it. Yes?

Anonymous said...

Whens the o[pen house?! There should have been one by now!

Anonymous said...

wait, you never liked the orginal star trek ships?? Then why is the space center based off them =P lol

Nathaniel Tidwell said...

The pen is not used to rewind but rather re-spool the tape if it managed to escape the confines of the cassette.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for phaser battles!
The problem with laser tag is the bulky and temperamental equipment, and the problem with supervisors calling shots is that it damages the suspension of disbelief. Well, I have an idea.
If reflective patches could be put on the uniforms, and if the light from the phasers could be focused (maybe with foil) enough to reach a few yards like a flashlight, then it would make it obvious when a target has been hit. Campers and volunteers would be told to go down when the reflective patches flash.
Meanwhile, the supervisors could work like referees, double checking to make sure that people who have been shot go down.

Anonymous said...

I like the design overall, but...
-My biggest concern is that each engineering section is too isolated from the bridge. It's like the old science station on the Voyager, that campers would leave because they wanted to see what was going on on the bridge. If the door was moved to lead right onto the bridge, with a good view of what was going on, the engineers would probably feel less cut off.
-A basement or upper level for flexible space would be nice.
-I love the idea someone made about covering up any windows with covers that resemble touchscreens.
-I also like the idea someone had about making the safety lights double as set lights, to make the hallways look more futuristic.

lperry said...

Even though the closing of the Space Center was devastating to me, since to my mind it is the most successful educational experience I've ever taken part in, I want to thank Victor for modeling what it's like to handle change, to work with people with whom one may disagree, to innovate--even when what one is changing is something that was working well. In this, too, Victor, has shown himself to be the finest teacher I know.

Rachael Ferry said...

I really like connors hall idea. When i was a camper i remember wanting to have a cooler effect for the away missions and having the same thought as a volunteer.
I know that when we would run the away missions there would always be a lack of hiding places if we had a shoot out so i am wondering if we will have anything to help with that.

Anonymous said...

It would be kind of neat if one of the new simulators took either a Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5 direction. I liked the ships of those series because they seemed to be designed with utility in mind first, with aesthetics coming after rather than the other way around.
Then again, the Magellan seems to be headed in that direction anyway, with it being based off of the Daedalus of Stargate, and carrying a squad of Colonial Vipers...

Anonymous said...

I think we can never truelly get rid of staff helping call shots, because kids could easily just cover the sensor up, but they get shot some were else. We'de cover them in full body sensors! :)