Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Fleet of Starships are Always on Duty, Even Over Spring Break! First Tellings of Missions: The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat. The Imaginarium.

When you're home sleeping, they're out there serving and protecting. When you're on vacation, they're on duty protecting democracy. When you're on vacation, they're guarding your freedom.
I'm talking about Utah County's fleet of starships - very nearly always on duty. Very nearly always out there in the depths of space safeguarding everything you hold dear.  Very nearly always staffed by competent fearless crews always too willing to use their ship's powerful arsenals to overreact to situations which could be solved by compromise and dialog, But hey, talking isn't as fun as unleashing a barrage of photon torpedoes - is it?

Farpoint Space Education Center
  
The Voyager was on duty yesterday on a five hour mission to protect something from someone of dubious intentions.  The mission, a test run of Isaac Ostler's new five hour story. 

Carter, Isaac B, Affan, Olivia, and Luke. Just a few of the many staff and volunteers who kept the gears
turning while Isaac panicked.  First mission tellings are always rough. This was no exception.

Armed with over two dozen computers and other pieces of high tech wizardry; staffed by dedicated and surprisingly talented teens from local schools; crewed by people not chosen for their intelligence, looks, or connections but by something even thicker - blood; yes his family members. Isaac took the Voyager on the first telling of his new five hour mission.  

Isaac Ostler at first chair chewing on the microphone. Maeson Busk at IIFX smiling. Always smiling. Who know what second story scenarios were mulling around in the dark recess of his mind.  Whatever they were, they had to be good.
The mission is over. All that is left is the Fat Lady's Song and the pronouncement of victory or defeat
 Isaac's summary of how the mission went? "It was the worst mission ever!" he lamented. Battle fatigue, exhaustion, and post traumatic stress was written in every line of his face and every syllable out of his mouth. 
It was time for me to bring perspective to his interpretation of events. "Listen Isaac, I've never told a new mission for the first time without thinking it was the worst mission ever. A first telling is wrought with problems. It's the nature of the beast. Don't throw the story out just because it was a tough slog. Get feedback. Change what bothered you the most. Ask yourself if you were really prepared with everything needed to engage the crew. Make adjustments and tell it again. It gets better. If it doesn't, then you've written a dud."

I'm a master at encouragement. 

Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center

Of course, the granddaddy of all space centers was a busy hive of activity over Spring Break. 


Erin and staff were busy drafting the USS Galileo's new summer camp mission. They set up their imagineering camp in the Discovery Room. The brainstorming was documented in a dizzying array of color on the whiteboard. I witnessed the end of the event myself; impressed with the storyboarding and plot lines, all nicely tied in ribbons of bright corrections and smeared changes. 


Erin's unusual, questionable, and slightly skewed sense of humor is demonstrated by her choice of lunchbox.  Based on available evidence, I'm coming to understand Erin's preference for night flights and her preoccupation with the macabre.  Just mentioning you're donating blood brings her out in a sweat.   

Telos Discovery Space Center Staff Join Two CMSEC Staff to Test Jon Parker's New Summer Mission on the Phoenix.

Jon Parker Briefing his crew on his new summer story
Jon Parker and Jordan Smith imagineered the USS Phoenix's summer mission called "Catch Me if You Can". Friday afternoon was its first telling.  Megan Warner, Director of Telos Discovery Space Center, along with three of her staffed joined Brylee and Audrey from the CMSEC to make up the crew. The mission briefing was conducted in the school's faculty room.


I warmed to the mission half way through the briefing once Jon wrote the name of the mission's primary ship (besides the Phoenix) on the whiteboard.  The USS Victor Alan has to be the finest ship name I've ever heard in all my thirty-four years of writing and telling simulator stories. The genius of syllable and tone along with history and vision all wrapped in reverent pronunciation makes the USS Victor Alan unique and inspiring.  Well done Jon!  

The Discovery / CMSEC crew ready to tackle what could be the summer's best mission at the CMSEC

Training at their stations

Wondering why I'm taking picture after picture. "Hasn't he anything better to do with his time," she's thinking.

The Phoenix. I really like the Phoenix. My decision to build it wasn't popular with the staff.
The staff's recessed bunk beds were sacrificed to build it.


The seriousness of a mission's first telling was evident in the focus you see on the staff's faces. Maeson (resident Time Lord) at Second Chair took shallow breaths so as not to disturb Jon and Jordan as they frantically typed messages.  Devin (out of the picture) sat in the Odyssey's Control Room doorway enjoying his lunch. Luckily it was a lilted salad - no munch and no crunch.  

Yes folks, Spring Break is no break at all for those of us in the space education business.

Mr. Williamson

The Imaginarium
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