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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center Honors the Few, the Proud, the Chosen, the Talented, and at Times the Confused. The Imaginarium

Confused is right. Being a new volunteer or intern at any of the space centers can be confusing, bewildering, and sometimes scary.  Where do you stand? Who do you talk to? What are you suppose to be doing? What do they mean when they say "Take the Bridge?  What is a second story? What is a teaser?  How do I know what "Go throw something on, walk up to the bridge, and play a wise old space creature suffering from a form of dementia while at the same time foreshadow a part of the mission that's coming up with suitable references to today's current conflict in Syria?  Got it? Go!"

And let's not forget, volunteers must have a functioning sixth sense giving them the power to read the flight director's mind. It's helpful whenever he or she says, "You know what I mean. I can't explain it in detail right now."  

Considering what's asked of them, it is only fitting the space centers honor these volunteers. The CMSEC did just that early Monday morning with breakfast and recognitions.  

Scott powering his way through several packages of hash browns. Nicole mixes waffle batter in the background. Nicole will be back in the Magellan's flight director chair this summer.
CMSEC's paid staff cooked the breakfast whilst the volunteers listened to brief summaries of the summer's new camp missions in the faculty lounge.  

Natalie Anderson nearly brought herself to tears in the telling of the Odyssey's new summer mission. The volunteers listened attentively, keeping one eye on Natalie and one on the door hoping for another delivery of sausages.
And they weren't disappointed. A steady flow of sausages, waffles, and hash browns kept the troops happy (Notice how  intently they monitor the door for the next delivery. One young volunteer has his arm at the ready to draw the waiter's attention to his table)
Strange how that paper plate at center table remained populated with sausages when other tables were wanting. I attribute their abundant supply to the winker's quick work with the fork in defending what's theirs from unwanted creeping hands.

After breakfast, the tizzy of volunteers found their way to the Discovery Room for the Honor's Event itself.  Healthy photogenic smiles were teased from the younglings with a promise to convince Mr.James Porter to give them all a Discovery Room pass.  
Not knowing there was such a thing, and not wanting to risk the chance that there wasn't, they smiled convincingly for the blog. 

It was a good turnout and what a great group of volunteers.  I wouldn't say the spirit in the room was electric, but Mr. Porter does know how to keep an audience's attention with a clever turn of words seasoned with a dusting of sarcasm.

The Space Center's class structure was obvious to the casual observer. The newbies sat towards the front in chairs while the staff occupied the peanut gallery at the back, filling all available tabletop and floor space.  Young Mason (the CMSEC's resident Time Lord) sat in NoMan's Land - that boundary between classes; almost on paid staff, but not quite. Mason's unconscious decision to slide one chair length behind the newer volunteers highlighted his confused predicament. Devon was impressed with Mason's chutzpah. 

Of course, a clean ship is a happy ship. How many times has that been said by all three Space Center directors? Does anyone pay attention?

The first honor when to Mason. The Time Lord received his Odyssey Pin for passing both the Odyssey's second chair and bridge positions.

Orion was awarded his Phoenix pin by Phoenix Set Director Jon Parker. Jon doesn't get to give many of those out so he was naturally pleased.

Several young volunteers got their 100 volunteer hours Apprentice Starfighters patch. 

Mr. Porter congratulated Katie and Orion for getting their gazillion hour Hitchhiker patches.

Matt Robison wasn't able to attend to receive his Galileo Flight Director Honor. Still, Mr. Porter honored him with a photo from his past. On the right, Matt. On the left, some old time Space Center director whose name I can't recall.  

Then came time to honor the departing. Isaac Ostler, Andrew McCord, and Christine Grosland Smith retired from active Space Center duty. 

No Space Center director is happy (as seen in Mr. Porter's face) when excellent, talented staff retire and transition from the safe, secure, happy world we call the Space Center into life in the real world; it happens even to the best of us.  The three of them will be profoundly missed.  The one bright lining to the dark retirement cloud is the contractual reactivation clause triggered from time to time by desperate center directors facing dark, ominous school years or summer seasons. 

Isaac was missing in action. The rumor spreading through the space centering community says that Isaac once again lost a battle with his bed, a severe lack of sleep from hours of late night programming, and a unreliable gutless alarm clock.   

In true Mr. Porter fashion, three gift cards were purchased for the retirees.  Each card had a different cash balance.  Not even Mr. Porter knew which card carried which balance. They chose according to their seniority.  It was classic!  I'm going to steal this idea when the occasion presents itself at Farpoint.

Thank you, volunteers and staff, for making the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center the wonderful place it is.  It is, for so many, a home away from home; a safe place to make friends, learn effective work skills and rub shoulders with some of Utah's most creative and talented individuals.  

Mr. Williamson

The Imaginarium