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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Starship Voyager Opens! Nearly 250 Students Enroll in the New Farpoint and Voyager After School Clubs. A New EdVenture in Experiential Education has Begun. Imaginarium Theater.

Ryan, a Renaissance Academy 9th Grade Voyager, trains a young member of the 4th Grade Scorpion Squadron
on her bridge duties
     After Four Years, Five Months, and 13 Days Starfleet has another ship named Voyager. It has been that long since the original USS Voyager docked at Starbase for decommissioning on Saturday, July 28, 2012.  The once mighty flagship of an ever growing fleet finished it's last mission with Jon Parker as Flight Director. Jon turned off the Voyager's lights, I locked the doors, and the ship that started them all entered history. The original Odyssey was decommissioned that same day but has since been replaced with the new Odyssey at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. 
     Fast forward to the future. It is 4:00 P.M. on January 10, 2017 at Farpoint Station located inside Renaissance Academy.  Twenty-seven cadets in the primary level Scorpion Squadrons meet for the first time in my classroom for their mission briefing and introduction to the Farpoint Club, the school's after school STEM club emphasising simulator based experiential education for grades 3 - 9. 

A Renaissance Academy 3rd Grade Scorpion Cadet learns how to steer the ship 

      "Welcome to the Future!" I exclaimed to a crowded room of twenty-seven excited younglings. The Scorpion cadets were divided into their 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teams. I instructed the teams on America's space history, introduced them to simulator based learning, and taught them the Farpoint pledge and its meaning.  
I pledge my best efforts to learn about space and further the cause of human space exploration. I will work to improve my grades in math and science and encourage my friends to do the same. I will be the best I can be at home, at school, and in my community.  I am the future.       
Farpoint Cadets at work on the USS Voyager's Bridge
    Then came their mission briefing. I explained who they were and their purpose for taking the Voyager out into the vastness of space. "You are tasked to do three things," I said as I paced the room holding a model of the new Voyager. "I'm sending you out to explore. Discover new planets where humans can settle and pave the way for our people to follow. That's your first job. I want you to also protect and defend our citizens and enforce our laws.  Do you understand these first two responsibilities aboard your new starship?"  
     "Yes Sir!" the cadets enthusiastically replied.  
     "Finally - your third responsibility; the most important, which is why I saved it for last.  You are to find that something the great astronomer Carl Sagan referred to when he said, 'Somewhere, something wonderful is waiting to be discovered'.  Can I trust you to never stop exploring until you find it?" 
     "Yes Sir!" The cadets had the vision. Their voices were loud and determined. Their faces expressed an excitement and passion for exploration. They were ready to see what was out there.

Voyager Cadet Spencer trains two Farpoint Scorpions.
     I saw my time was short. The Voyager staff were ready to take the first of the three teams into the ship for training. "Cadets, before you leave me for the starship, I'm going to share something that has influenced my life." I was waxing philosophically that afternoon. Afterall, it's not often you get to launch an entirely new education initiative. "Rene Descartes was the father of modern western philosophy. He lived in the early 1600's in France. He wrote, 'There is nothing so far removed from us to be beyond our reach, or so far hidden that we cannot discover it." 

Voyager Cadet Alex trains our young security guards. Young Mr. Ricks looks like an alien guest in the bridge lighting!

     I could see the meaning of the statement was lost on some of the younger cadets so I elaborated. "I believe we can achieve anything if we first imagine it. Then we must believe it can be done. After that comes the hard part - we must learn how to do it. That's where your education come into play. YOU need to do your best in school. Our future depends on it. Once we've learned what we need to know it's time to DO IT. Our own lack of faith in ourselves holds us back along with the effort it takes to achieve great things; all of which is the language of defeatism. Hard work and a good education is the key to success and that's what our club is about, so remember the formula: Imagine. Believe. Learn. and Do.   
     I explained to the cadets that we are this planet's only sentient life forms. "We alone understanding the universe and our place in it.  I'm sending you out there to make history. Be brave. Be courageous. And don't scrape the paint on my starship as you leave spacedock!"
    And with that, our first group of cadets boarded the new USS Voyager. 

Discovery Space Center's Maeson trains a Scorpion Cadet at Damage Control
The new Voyager welcomes volunteers from all the space education centers in Utah

     Would you like to participate in this new educational initiative at Renaissance Academy? If you're in 7th through 12th grade visit to learn how to join the Voyager Club.  Farpoint is the long duration mission club for grades 3 to 9. Visit for more information. Both the Voyager and Farpoint Clubs sponsor computer programming classes for our cadets. Contact me for further information.
     Friends, the Voyager has launched!  Come by and visit. We'd like to show you what so many volunteer enthusiasts have done for education in Utah. Careful, I may twist your arm to join us. Have your list of excuses ready :) 

Mr. Williamson
Admiral Williamson to my cadets
(It's got a certain ring to it, doesn't it?)
The USS Voyager's First Farpoint Cadets. Renaissance Academy's Scorpions with our Opening Day Staff:
Ryan, Maeson, Isaac, Spencer, Alex, Tristan, and Andrew
January 10, 2017

Imaginarium Theater
The week's best gifs edited for a general audience. Great for classroom rewards.

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