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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trouble in the Magellan. Update from Pennsylvania. Take the Science and Technology Quiz. Tourists on Mars. The Imaginarium

Hello Troops,
The Magellan has a personality of its own; a personality I wouldn't exactly call cooperative.  It works when it has nothing better to do, and throws a temper tantrum when it feels it is neglected in any way.  Yesterday the network failed at 1:10 P.M.  I was at 2nd chair and Megan was on the bridge.  Megan noticed the problem first.  She poked her head through the small hatch joining the Magellan Control Room with the transition hallway. "Did you online Station 5?" she asked.  I told her I had.  "We've got a problem then" were her next words.  That sentence turns a flight director's blood cold.

Flight Directors handle computer failures different ways, depending on their experience and training. A well trained flight director switches into problem solving mode and begins working through a mental checklist to restore and fix the problem. Novice flight directors panic, sweat profusely, and enter windshield wiper mode; their heads turn side to side scanning their equipment hoping to see something which would direct them to the problem.  It is an exercise in futility.  They're not going to find a thing.  The problems are usually too well hidden.

Wouldn't it be cool if electrical equipment was designed with a self diagnostic mode which would alert the operator to a problem by raising a red flag.  Let's replay the situation described above with my imagined system.

Megan:  "Did you online Station 5?"
Me:  "Yes I did, right when you made me aware of the problem."
Megan:  "OH NO.  We have a major network problem.  Look at me, I'm sweating profusely.  My hands are shaking.  Would someone tell me what to do?  I can't stop my head from going side to side!  I ....... think...... I'm....... having........ a .......... nervous ........"

The click of a red flag is heard in the Control Room.  A small red flag on a wire pole pops up from behind a network switcher.  As the wire flag pole swings into the upright position it rips open a small balloon made of tissue and filled with confetti.  The confetti falls, creating a momentary festive mood to relieve the flight director's tension.

Me:  "Look, the red flag and confetti.  That darn switcher is the problem!
Megan:  "It's a miracle.  Mr. Williamson, your idea of a red flag is fantastic.  I'm feeling better already."
Me:  "Good, because you hit your face on the side of the hatchway.  You're bleeding.  Better get that looked after.  I think you need stitches."
Megan:  "Never.  A good bridge supervisor never leaves her post - no matter what the injury.  I'm returning to duty.  Please had me a box of tissues, a needle and some string.  I'll sew myself up when I have a moment.  The students come first; isn't that what you taught us?"
Me:  "Good girl Megan.  Spot on.  Zac, are you getting all of this?"  Zac didn't answer.  The stress of the malfunctioning network caused him to pass out. Strange, but his head was still going from side to side completely on instinct.  "Rookies," I mumbled.  "Rookies".   


News from the IKS Titan and Dream Flight Adventures at Shaler Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania.
 Students in the IKS Titan
Inline image 1  

It’s been just over one month since the exciting debut of the IKS Titan at the Shaler Area Elementary School, so let’s check out how the program has gone so far.
First, the launch event itself was very well received.  The students, teachers, and administrators all loved it.  The students in the school’s Gifted and Talented program all had the opportunity to present at the event—describing the simulator, its stations, and mission—and they did a fantastic job.  Everyone complimented their fine presentation skills!
The launch received a lot of great press coverage as well.  It was featured on two local TV News stations—plus by the district’s own high school news squad, the next generation of front line reporters.  Several regional newspapers ran stories about the program, and social media channels buzzed about it for days afterward.
But that was just the beginning.  In the days that followed things really started to get interesting.
Keep in mind, the Shaler Area Elementary School serves approximately 1,000 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  It’s a huge building bustling with activity and learning.  Since the project’s inception, the plan had always been to pilot the Dream Flight Adventures simulator with the school’s Gifted and Talented program for the first year, and then gradually roll it out to other classes over time.  However, the program came together so well and interest in it has been so strong that the school has shifted the simulator into high gear.  They’ve been running the simulator essentially around the clock, letting as many of their 1,000 students use the simulator as possible—this year, before summer break!
But that’s not all.  Because the program was initially positioned as something for the Gifted and Talented program, over 30 new students request gifted placement testing—that’s a 34% increase over the current gifted enrollment.  It’s so exciting to see the way this program has excited and inspired students throughout the school to strive for their best and push their own limits!
I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!
Gary Gardiner
Director, Dream Flight Adventures
(412) 475-8694

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Update from Dream Flight Adventures:

Tourists on Mars

Elon Musk, the Space X CEO, is convinced that in another 20 years or so the commercial travels to Mars would be not only possible but pretty affordable, costing as low as half a million dollars per person. To materialize this, he plans to create a re-usable space craft which will bring down the cost of orbit and over the orbit travel just to the cost of propellant. Per pound cost to orbit should equal to just $10-20. Till that happens all average people dreaming to become Mars tourists have enough time to save the necessary $500,000, as for now the Space X Falcone 9 rocket is hoping to crack the $1,000 per pound cost.  Read More

And Now, Your Reward for Plowing Through the News and UpdatesThe Troubadour Brings you 

The Imaginarium!

A hospital scanner without the faceplates.  The Miracle of Engineering!

Nike Advertising: Imagination: A

A picture taken during one of my off world excursions.  Now you know what I do with my weekends.

Yes, this is what I would expect.

Yes, it is allergy season.


Great advertising

One way not to have to listen to grandma's complaining about all the noise the children are making

Eggmazing  :)    Naw, that didn't work.  I'll leave it there anyway to show that Mr. W. has his off days like anyone else. 

The Godfather

Creativity: A
This student was asked to give an answer and explain how he got the answer.   You have to do this a lot in common core math.  He knew the answer, but not exactly how he got it - or the reasoning behind the answer.  I'd give it to him, perhaps even give him extra credit for making me laugh.

Ever wonder how the cars in the movie "Cars" could be alive?

Living in Iceland.

A Company takes children's drawings of fanciful animals and makes them a reality.   Imagination is off the charts with this.

A bowl of Apples

He marches to a different drum.

There is a story to this picture I'd like to know.

A Pencil gate.

Mini sculptures with food.
Creativity: A

How you grandparents did it...

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