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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Simulators Get a Good Summer Cleaning. The IKS Highlander is Featured in a Newspaper Article. Theater Imaginarium.

The Space Center's "Let's Get the Ships Looking Good" Summer Maintenance Week

It is a yearly tradition. The first week of summer vacation is spent cleaning, polishing, repairing, and decluttering the Magellan, Odyssey, Phoenix, and Galileo simulators at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove.  I started the tradition in June of 1991 just before we opened for our very first summer camp.  Back then we had the Voyager only to ready for summer camp.  June 2012 was the last time we had five simulators to prep.  

Natalie, James, and Devon were busy working on new rope lighting for the Odyssey and Magellan.

The Odyssey Control Room was a disaster zone. They even had part of the wall down to work on one of the engineering panels. 

The rest of the Odyssey equipment was in the hallway between the Odyssey and the Phoenix.

I found Jon Parker, Asst. Director, working on summer story videos in the Phoenix Control Room. 
He didn't want to be disturbed and closed the blinds right after the picture was snapped.

Space Center Director James Porter was playing traffic warden in the Discovery Room. While some were busy in the simulators, the Space Center's volunteers were working their way through the summer mission scripts learning the many acting parts.

 I caught the volunteers a short while later in the Phoenix hanging out. I think they were underfoot so Jon was given additional responsibilities :)

News From Dream Flight Adventures

Simulator brings excitement into J.E. Harrison Middle School classroom in Whitehall, Pennsylvania

This just in:  the IKS Highlander was recently featured in an article in the Tribune-Review.

The simulator classroom was showcased to parents and the community recently during a Remake Learning event at Harrison Middle School, Pennsylvania.

This is the text of the article
Then came eighth grade and the opening of the IKS Highlander life-size, video-game-style classroom at J.E. Harrison Middle School — a fun place to learn for Jesionowski, where she made friends, collaborated with peers and did something she was interested in.
Now, Jesionowski can't stop talking about school, according to her mother, Tina, of Baldwin Borough.

“She tells her 11-year-old sister, Sarah, all about it and now she can't wait to get here,” Tina Jesionowski said. “Leaving Harrison next year, her only regret is that she doesn't get to use this anymore.”
The doors of the IKS Highlander opened one year ago and the room, along with a partnering Mission Ops lab, were incorporated into classroom learning for all 947 Harrison students in 2015-16.
The room was showcased to parents and the community last week during a Remake Learning event at Harrison.
Baldwin-Whitehall received a grant from the Grable Foundation to fund a portion of the Dream Flight Adventures-based simulator classroom, complete with fluorescent lights, tiered seating and iPads built into each station.
The room is meant to take students on imaginative adventures while teaching them about health, science, English language arts and history. But it's more than just a game.
“One of the fears of something like this is that it's like a Kennywood ride. The kids come and they love it but how do you connect it with education? Our teachers have done a wonderful job of that,” Principal Jill Fleming-Salopek said.
The Mission Ops lab serves as the connector between the simulator and classroom learning.
This year, Baldwin-Whitehall paired with several people to bring extra learning opportunities into the classroom through the Mission Ops and IKS Highlander spaces.
A Baldwin High School graduate and Duquesne University pharmacy student taught a five-week session in March, when students became junior pharmacists and learned what it is like to work at a hospital, choose the appropriate medication for a patient and determine the right dosage.

Sled dogs were brought in to give students a real-life example of what they were reading about in “Call of Wild.”
“There's so much going on,” STEM teacher Michael Kaleta said. “They get immersion learning.”
Students are required to fill out an application for a job before they go on a mission inside the IKS Highlander. Inside the room, teamwork is required to complete a mission, Kaleta said.
“I've seen a lot of excitement, not just in the faces of the students, but in the teachers and parents, as well,” Fleming-Salopek said.
Dena Walzl, an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Harrison, used the simulator to help English-language learners make connections between words and situations. It allows them to see an application of the words they're learning, she said.
“They're making a connection,” Walzl said.

Kaleta said he plans to expand on learning from the space in the future. He would like to bring Baldwin High School students in to pair with the middle schoolers in the classroom and has many other ideas of how to use the classroom space for education.
“We've opened the doors to a new way of learning,” Kaleta said.
The room is fun for the students and it makes them want to learn, their teachers said.
“Go check out this room. It's like Disney,” Kaleta said, as a handful of children walked into the school last week.
Nabin Pokhrel, 15, an eighth-grader, said he was “amazed at the sound and technology” in the IKS Highlander and “how it connected with our education process.”
“Hands-on is much better than learning things in a book,” he said.
“I loved it,” Angela Jesionowski, 14, said. “It's like your favorite video game came to life.”
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-388-5818 or

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