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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Two New Simulator Building Ideas. Your Comments.

Hello Troops,
A cold front has moved in from the north.  It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.  I'm looking out my front window at the valley below.  There is a wall of white snow working its way across American Fork heading straight for Pleasant Grove. 

We had an interesting Space Center Committee meeting at Thanksgiving Point Thursday afternoon.  Thanksgiving Point management gave us a short presentation on their new museum currently under construction.  The Museum of Natural Curiosity opens in one year.  It will house several hands on science displays; making it similar in scope and sequence to San Fransisco's Exploratorium.  

Thanksgiving Point's management expressed an interest in working with the school district to provide a new home for the Space Center near the new museum.  The committee was excited about the proposal, but remember, the devil is in the details.  The district's people will get together with Thanksgiving Point's people to explore the business end of a possible partnership.  The school board will make the final decision based on their findings and the committee's recommendations.

The interest wasn't there for an Alpine District school at Thanksgiving Point at the present time.  Everyone agreed it would be a perfect site for a school, but the funding isn't there.  I've got a few ideas and haven't given up on the dream of a Space Center school (Farpoint Academy from last Saturday's post).  

It appears we will have a few ships up and running at Central School by the middle of January.

That pretty much sums up the latest news.  

Mr. W.

Your Comments     

Miranda Wrote:
Quick comment concerning laser tag vests: I believe they are too impractical and time different for our purposes. We try to pull ourselves out into the future as much as we can with the current technology available to us. The complete immersion isn't as effective without campers putting in a little acting themselves. When one plays laser tag and is "tagged" or "Down" in our case and their laser gun stops working for "x" amount of time, you lose your immersion in what you're doing.  
Playing dead on the other hand, if you're willing to believe (Just like if you're willing to believe in magic of Christmas) the experience becomes 10 times the better of what it can be seen as.  
Quick Comment on Farpoint: Please write more. The student life sounded pretty cool; however, I'm very intrigued as to how staff life would be different working for a school space center instead of just the space center. For instance, would all Flight Directors have to be teaching certified? To what degree? Would we still run private missions? What would happen/would we need a volunteer force, and who would that force consist of? 
 Thanks for brightening our day with futures soon to come (at least one can hope within the century.) 
Isaac O wrote
I HAD THE BEST IDEA EVER ON THE BUS HOME TODAY!!! Escape Pods!!! That would be SO COOL!!! if the crew has to escape or leave the ship, they jump into the escape pods (like shuttles) and then they can still use the computers and stuff! 

Anonymous wrote
First- I don't like the idea of a magnet school at all- at least not right away. It would take funds away from making the new space center a true "dream center."  
Second- With the closing of the Voyager and the destruction of the Odyssey, what will happen to the pins that were in progress? I, among others, was a 5 hr or two away from receiving my second voyager pass, consequentially giving me Voyager pin. Will all of that work have to go down the drain? 
Volunteers will no longer need Odyssey or Voyager pins to advance.  

JM wrote
Thanks for the explanation, Alex! It's nice to know your thoughts behind the design. It made me really excited for the day construction on the new CMSEC building will begin! Whenever that is, of course. 
1. Is it a dumb idea to put the Galileo outside? I don't know how weather resistant it is, but you could put it to the side of the Assembly room with a door leading directly to it. It would double as sort of an outdoor decoration/advertisement for theCMSEC and a real simulator. I also don't know how that would work with the staff trying to run missions- would you need to run wires to the Galileo (meaning the control room would have to be outside too) or can you do everything wirelessly (meaning the control room can take a corner of the Assembly room maybe)?2. I like Anonymous' idea to move the doors to the engineering sections to face the bridge. And I concur that the idea to make safety lights double as set lights is a great one! 
Oh, another thing I REALLY liked was Alex's suggestions for how to incorporate real scientific tests and principles. SO COOL! You could easily include astronomy as well by having a situation where you're lost in space and have to determine where you are based on nearby constellations or something else. Give the science officer a star chart to reference and let them put that planetarium time to good use! 
P.S. Mr. Williamson, your Farpoint Academy sounds like my childhood dream school. And I really like your writing. You should write more "Enemy from the Dark" when you have time. 
Name Classified wrote;
First of all; it looks like this is sort-of in the design already but I want to clarify. It looks to me that there is at least a small ramp in the large simulators to go to a higher bridge (half-quarter floor higher), if this isn't the case I would highly recommend it 
Second: I have an idea for the engineering problem, if I'm being able to tell what is on the bridge. It looks like you might be able to put the engineer in the corner (like on the Voyager) and have a door behind them that opens out into the engineering room, while having it lock from the bridge side. (with the other door on the design where it is) And it could be a rule to always lock it, and then make that rule important in certain missions where when the ship is invaded an intruder try's to get in that way. And if the door is unlocked you get knocked a point down because that is a less defensible area, and the ship gets invaded because the other intruders are coming the other way and nobody notices the one intruder until it's too late 
Sorry for the long comment, I hope that I made enough sense to be understood!
I keep hoping for the best future for the Center! 

Two Simulator Floor plans Submitted by Our Readers

Connor P sent the floor plan and email below.  Feel free to comment.
Mr. Williamson,
This is my concept of what the "ideal" space center would be like. Notice I didn't use the word "dream" as was used in the first design submitted by Alex, because I could dream a lot more than this. Rather than being beyond my wildest dreams, this is the general layout that I think could work for the space center. As it stands, however, it is probably a fair bit beyond the current budget.
Before I explain, I have a couple of disclaimers: One, these rooms are not even close to drawn to scale. (In other words, I don't think that the classrooms should be the same size as two bathrooms.) Two, I had a lot of extra space that I didn't know what to do with after I placed my initial ideas. Based on the feedback that Alex gave about the comments from everybody, I think I will rework this design to better fit reality and remove the "extra" stuff.
Now, for the explanation. I divided my concept into "zones" in the second picture. I will start with explaining a little bit about that.

  1. Welcome/Business Zone (green): The experience should begin with everything the students/campers and their parents need before the actual mission. This includes payment and questions in the office, storage for overnighters, and bathrooms for beforehand. I even provided for the possibility of a museum that Mr. Williamson talked about; display cabinets or other information about the space center's history could be put in the foyer.
  1. Simulation Zone (red): Once you enter this zone, I believe the simulation "experience" should begin, and should only be interrupted for very rare circumstances. This goes along with my previous comments about how to make the hallways futuristic to fit in more with this experience (see this post, just before the imaginarium). This would only need to be done in the hallways in the Simulation Zone. As I will explain more when I get to the Staff Zone, staff and volunteers will be able to access these areas through other hallways if necessary. This zone includes space for away missions.
  1. Education Zone (orange): This zone is for the education part of the space center (Note: in my next version of my design, I probably will combine this zone with the Overnight Needs Zone. As Alex said, the planetarium could be put inside the assembly hall). This is probably my area of least expertise, so I will defer to the comments of others. I do believe that education can and should be a larger focus of the new center.
  1. Overnight Needs Zone (yellow): Not much comment is needed here, but I have an idea I may comment on later for a separate sleeping area that avoids some of the issues that stop the center from doing that now. It would be nice to have one specific area for campers to have everything they need at night for an overnighter.
  1. Staff Zone (blue): This zone doesn't really need to be this big, but I think it is wise to have a separate space for the staff and volunteers, especially if we don't have Discovery anymore. Notice that every one of the control rooms is accessible from the main hallways. It will be sad not to have the central office for the entrance to three of the simulators and their control rooms, but I think this option will ultimately be better. This way, staff can quickly get to where they need to, including the away mission areas, other control rooms, and anywhere else in the center for supplies. It may still be worthwhile to make a way for the staff to get to their respective control rooms from the "transporter room", but you get the idea. There is also space for the programming guild and a room for laundry and maintenance, but I think in my revised design these will have to be combined with the staff room.

Anyway, that is my design. I hope you get what I am going for. My next idea I will talk about in the future is how the control rooms themselves can be made just a little bit more efficient and effective.
Connor P's floorplan:

Nathan Winters sent the floor plan below.  Please feel free to comment.


Julie said...

I like your plan Mr. Williamson. I really like how each side has kind of a connecting staff area. My mind is going crazy with ideas of how to join the ships somehow to make the grand joint mission we've all dreamed of.

I do have a question with this ideal plan though. In an ideal world I think we are all thinking there would be overnight camps, and I'm wondering if you would like to incorporate showers into the plan at all, rather than using the community pool as an excuse to cut down on the stink?

Matthew E. Long said...

With regards to what Alex said about not being able to afford a basement for the proposed new building. I think it would be a huge mistake to not include a basement, even if it was an unfinished basements. The basement need only to be a foundation with supports for the 1st floor. Then, as time goes on and the space center earns money, we would be able to finish the basement, putting in space for storage, away missions etc. This would allow for a cheap(er) expansion to the space center as it grows. Otherwise, the only way to make the building bigger would be by building out or up, both of which would be very expensive.
We could also do this for an elevator. Leave space in a section of the building where we could later install an elevator (as was done in the Salt Lake temple). We need to think about the future of the space center, even if our current budget will be limited.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't a basement use a ramp? You could have storage space underneath it.
I think a basement is one of the best investments that can be made at this point; it'll allow for future growth, without needing to build upper floors. Even if it were to be a bare basement with few lights, it could serve as a 'bunker' type of area for away missions.
I like the 'Ideal' plan, but it seems to use a bit too much space for me to be comfortable with it, but since a 'slimmed down' concept is coming, I'll wait to pass judgement.
I've been going through my math and physics textbooks and finding concepts that would be easy to teach at the Space Center. It really wouldn't be that hard to mix in some science and math into missions.

Anonymous said...

Something I just thought of: a situation table somewhere. It'd be nice if the crew had somewhere to lay papers out to compare notes and work out problems, kind of like the navigation table on submarines. On the current simulators, there's a problem that people who have to work out problems on paper (like decoders) don't have a whole lot of space to work.
The table would also be helpful for science experiments, etc.

Rachael Ferry said...

I had an idea for the gun system (lazer tag and such) my friend has a laser tag game were if it hits your gun then you are out. So translating this to how it could work for the space center I was thinking if your gun got shot it doesn't work for 2-5 min or whatever time so wether they pretend to die or not to participate and earn brownie points for epics deaths you can't shoot others until your gun is out of death time. Also doctors could have a special card that they can swipe on the gun or what ever to activate it so we don't get rid of the medical staff.
Also an idea on Farpoint Academy you could have the kids apply for positions that they would stick with for like a school term or so then they could reapply or try for a different one. Just a thought. And is it possible that Farpoint, if you do decide to do it or are able to,that it would be open before I am out of high school so I could attend? (I am in 8th grade right now) if not would the volunteers be able to work there still and help staff and such because you still need actors. Also would volunteers be accepted over ordinary kids because they have had more experience with that stuff or would they be able to attend at all. Also would it be a boarding school or have normal schools days? You could extend the school time or you could have A days be curriculum and B days be simulator training and mission days?
P.s. sorry if this post is long but I really miss the space center and I feel like communicating through posts and helping with ideas is a way to stay in touch with the wonderful experience we all miss and love