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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

From the YahooGroup: Magellan to be Overhauled. THX First Mentioned. Pathfinder Simulator to Move. What is the Space Center Worth? Space Center Joins the National Society for Experiential Education. Application to Become a Flight Director. David Merrell Leaves. The Imaginarium.

Emily Perry (now Paxman) with her intelligent Odyssey crew

Happy Spring Break to Many of Utah's Students!
Mr. Williamson and the staff and volunteers from the Farpoint Space Education Center are very happy to enjoy one week from our grueling flight schedule on the USS Voyager at Renaissance Academy. We love all our 260 Young Astronauts and Voyagers, but there are times a rest is needed to recharge the batteries and reenergize the imagination.

Today, as is becoming normal for Saturday Troubadour posts, I present another Posts from the Past. Today the historical posts from December 2001.  With the posts are pictures from our summer camps of 2007.  Please enjoy your trip down memory lane for the old timers, and for you younglings, a chance to see the Space Center during the Voyager Era.

Mr. Williamson

Post from the Past:  The Magellan to Get Another Overhaul Over the Christmas Break. First Mention of the THX-1138 Feature.
December 3, 2001

Magellan's Plans for the Holiday Season and Break.

Magellan is getting another overhaul. Nothing like trying to keep an old, run-down, junky space station up and running to take all your free time. The Magellan has been ordered to Sector 001 to San Francisco Earth orbiting Shipyard for repair and refit. The USS Ranger is also undergoing some refit and repair.

The Magellan will be getting a new command structure for the Station. Gone now are 
the days of the Magellan being run with only 13 on the bridge, soon it shall be at least 18 people running this massive Space Station. This Space Station which has more capability than any ship in the Starfleet!

Starting another 3 day summer camp of 64 campers

Magellan is also having a few special things added to its arsenal. Things such as Mines, Ablative Armor, and something new designated as the THX-1138.

It also appears that the Magellan may be receiving a new main computer that is being shipped over from the USS Voyager. The Magellan's computer will be shipped to an old era vessel known as the Falcon. Starfleet thought it best to make this change for speed and quality of ship performance.

The Magellan also has an urgent mission coming up right after it's refit. Starfleet would not give anymore details, but it is rumored to be something a little out of the ordinary for this space station.

Just a warning…If you thought the new Magellan was fun, just wait, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

A lively briefing in the conference room

Post from the Past: Dave Wall's Pathfinder Simulator Moved to Logan and Becomes Part of the Discovery Alliance. The Explorer (Now Discovery) Joins the Pathfinder. 
December 7, 2001

To those who are interested:

The Pathfinder has been moved to an old school in River Heights (a suburb of Logan). It has become a part of the Discovery Alliance, an organization that runs the Discovery Center and Discovery on Wheels, and is connected with the Utah State University Extension and 4-H. The Discovery Alliance is a consortium of hands-on science and engineering programs for all ages. 

The school itself (where the Pathfinder is now and will be running) is an old school that is now used by the Cache District for offices, and in the future, a conference center. It is also going to host the Pathfinder and the Discovery (previously the Explorer). Some of you may remember the Explorer? It has been disassembled and is now in the process of being moved to the River Heights school. 

Many thanks to the Discovery Alliance and the Cache District for their interest and support. Also, thanks to those who have supported the Pathfinder in the past. 

I invite you all to come up and visit once I get it running. And now, the contact

1. For information on the Pathfinder, call me at 801-979-3760. Soon you will find something at You may also join our eGroup,
PathfinderSpace. We don't have many messages yet, but hopefully there will be
something to talk about soon. You could always join up and start an argument
about video game platforms.

2. To schedule a mission, call 435-797-0723. Don't call yet, cause it's not ready. At least
wait until the power is hooked up.

3. The Pathfinder is located at River Heights Elementary, 420 S. 500 E. River
Heights, UT.

4. For more information on the Discovery Alliance, visit
Their mailing address is: Discovery Alliance, 1770 Research Park Way, Suite 111,
Logan, UT 84341.

Hope to see you up there soon! I'll keep y'all posted.

Dave Wall
Pathfinder Space Simulation, DBA

The Phoenix Crew
Post from the Past: Space Center Journal. The Falcon Crashed and Burned. The Space Center's Worth $800,000.00. The Great Fish Returns to Fly the Galileo  
December 9, 2001

The Falcon crashed on us several times during the overnight mission. We found the computer that was sending gibberish over the network causing the problem. Mark and Bill were nearly at wits end. Luckily, being the true professionals they are in the art of 
simulation, they carried the mission and got good reviews at the end in the patron reviews.
Daytime operations were normal. This entire week was taken by schools in the Jordan District. They did a very good job. 

The Center's equipment inventory is finished. We discovered that the Center and all of its property is valued at nearly $800,000.00 ! That came as a shock to me. 
I was pleased to read Dave Wall's post on the Pathfinder. Imagine another Center in Utah with 2 simulators. This opens the door for field trips and perhaps other joint programs (although Logan is not just around the corner).

I'm open to ideas for a staff Christmas social. Send them on. 

The Galileo saw the hand of its creator this weekend. Kyle's health was good enough for a Saturday A.M. mission. The Galileo also did well in the reviews. It was good to see him working on the simulator, polishing the surfaces and cleaning the windows. 

We celebrated Metta and Bryson's birthday before we went to bed on the overnighter. Yes, a few weeks late but better late than never.

Well, there isn't much else to report. There may be other items that should be mentioned from the Flight Directors so I'll once again give them the invitation to post news from their own sets. I'm also excited to read more updates and developments on our sister Center in Logan with the Pathfinder and Explorer. 

All the best and enjoy your week.

Mr. Williamson

The Crew of the Galileo

Post from the Past: The Space Center Joins the National Society for Experiential Education. 
December 9, 2001

Hello Troops,
The Space Center has just joined The National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE). This organization hits what we do directly on the head. I've been looking long and hard for an educational organization that promotes the kind of learning we practice at the Center. For more information on this organization please visit their website. I've also taken information from their site and placed in below for you a quick review.

All the Best,
Mr. Williamson

About the National Society for Experiential Education 

The National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) is a nonprofit membership association of educators, businesses, and community leaders. Founded in 1971, NSEE also serves as a national resource center for the development and improvement of experiential education programs nationwide. NSEE supports the use of learning through experience for: 

intellectual development
cross-cultural and global awareness
civic and social responsibility 
ethical development 
career exploration 
personal growth 

Mission and History 
The mission of NSEE is to foster the effective use of experience as an integral part of education, in order to empower learners and promote the common good.

Post from the Past: The Requirements to Train as a Flight Director (What Mr. Williamson is Looking For in a Flight Director Trainee)
December 12, 2001

Requirements of a Flight Director:

1. Brief a crew to the extent that they understand their mission and are excited to begin it.
2. Give orders to the staff and have them carried out.
3. Improvise both in person and on the microphone.
4. Multitasking.
5. Have a feel for the emotions in a musical piece and portray that in both mission attitude and general atmosphere in the simulator.
6. Understand the need for individual accomplishment in a mission and make that a high priority.
7. Keep the quality standards of mission presentation up to Space Center standards.
8. Regulate sounds on a mixing board.
9. Work with your Trainer Flight Director for long periods of time.
10. Commit to working every overnighter and private mission for at least the next 4-5 months training.
11. Be enthusiastic.
12. Do multiple voices to the extent that they are believable, including computer and a Tex like character.
13. Have a good attitude.
14. Keep the flow of a story alive and have it all make sense at the end of the mission.
15. Be able to act.

The Odyssey Engineer

Post from the Past: Space Center Journal. Rowdy Teenagers Feel Mr. Williamson's Wrath. David Merrell's Last Overnight Camp. Chris Call to Become Odyssey Set Director. The Purpose of the Space Center and the Duty of the Staff and Volunteers to Promote the Center in the Community.
December 16, 2001

A week that will live in infamy. No, not quite but it has definitely 
had its moments. 

Private Missions:
We had a full slate of private missions as well this week. I ran a level 3 mission for Dustin R. and his friends. They didn't do too badly. I did catch them on a few points which is the exciting part of running a level 3 mission for our volunteers. The Odyssey was the 
busiest as usual for the private missions. We did have a MESA club from a Jordan District junior high attend on Tuesday. I don't know what it is about J.H. teachers but they don't seem able to control the groups they bring. This group arrived just as Central was letting out. I asked the teacher to keep the students organized in the foyer. His definition of organized was to let them go wherever they wanted while he just stool leaning against the wall looking like he would rather be anywhere else then there. Most of them just came and stood in the Briefing Room's doorway asking questions of no relevance. You know - 
just to be annoying because they were "bored". Come on you teen volunteers, you know the type I'm talking about. 

The Magellan Crew

I kept hearing one of the teens telling the others how awful the Space Center was and how 
bored he was last year.
He went on to pretty much slander as much of the Center as he could. There was a breaking point after hearing, "I can't stand being here!" the tenth time. I asked them all to come in and have a seat. In walked this group of J.H. students chomping on them gum sitting anywhere they wanted - moving the chairs all around the room so they could sit with their friends. If you told them to leave the chairs alone you got that `stupid' look they give to show their disgust that you are attempting to control their lives. I see that 
`stupid' look and interpret it to mean `Stupid lives here' (referring to the empty space between their ears). Now, please don't get me wrong - I'm not saying all teens are like this; definitely not our volunteers! But.............. the number that are resulted in the decision to restrict attendance to those no older than 14. Anyway the loud moth slanderer sat in front of me. He plopped in his chair and I unleashed both barrels on him. It was not pretty as I'm sure the staff in the room can attest. That boy's attitude changed 180 degrees in an instant. 

Strangely enough i discovered he really loved the place. He was just fine in the simulator and really got into the mission. I assume the theatrics at the beginning was intended to portray that teen `coolness' factor teens use to maintain their social position. 

Overnight Mission:
This week's overnight mission was sponsored by Cherry Hill Elementary in south Orem. Great group of 6th graders. Our Voyager crew was one of the best and outperformed most groups in the Shadows story. Wesley spent his second week on the bridge training for a not to distant future bridge pass. McKay did his first long stint at 2FX with Josh Webb sitting behind tutoring. The Odyssey reported a decent crew. The Falcon offers no comment for theirs. I didn't get a response from the Galileo. The Magellan on the other hand reported numerous problems. The Magellanites were struggling. It was rough on the staff. The boys 
went to bed quickly. This was our last overnight for the year 2001!  It was also David Merrell's last overnight mission. As many of you know David will be leaving the Center on Wednesday of this week. 

Lunch in the Cafeteria

Staff News: 

David Merrell will be leaving us this week. Wednesday will be his last working day. The microphone for the Odyssey will be transferred to Chris Call in a ceremony to be held the first week of January. Chris will become the Odyssey's official Set Director beginning this 
Thursday. Chris recently returned from an LDS mission to the Philippines in October. He has been working the field trips training in the Voyager and Odyssey and reports he is ready to take the reins from David. Chris is currently working on new story ideas. We will all have a chance to say goodbye to David the first week of January in an open house held in his honor. The open house will be open to all staff and volunteers. Please keep in touch for time and date.

Mr. Daymont has written a new Odyssey mission. It is currently in Mr. Schuler's in box for video tape editing. Once ready Mr. Daymont will be running several level 3 practice flights for staff and volunteers. Watch for future posts.

Level Advancement:
I'm please to announce that Soren and Matt L. have accepted the responsibility to teach a new programming class in AppleScript. AppleScript is the direction we are going in the programming field. It is very similar to Hypercard but has many new added features. There 
will be a beginning and advanced class. Classes begin in January. Look for future posts. 

In order to provide class hours for our volunteers seeking advancement the Center will offer a series of workshops on various topics. My goal is to have at least 1 workshop monthly. These workshops will be taught by our staff and guests. They will cover a variety of topics related to space and science fiction. 

Lining them up and sending them out.

The Center just took delivery of a new Mac G4 computer. This computer has the ability to burn DVD's. We will be converting all the simulators to DVD soon. All of the VCR's will be sold. Imagine that - no more "pausing" problems!

The Magellan took delivery of three new leather chairs for its control room and 3 cool wire mesh trash cans. 

Flight Director's Comments:
Mrs. Remy posted a very important message about the 2FX station in the Voyager. Please re-read that post. 
All staff and volunteers should never discuss the magic of the mission to any customer while at the Center. I'm sure you've noticed we don't come out and take a bow at the end of our missions. There is a reason I've not allowed that. We want our customers to enter our 
simulators thinking of them as real. They are not to see our control rooms except in the Voyager's case - poor design. They are not to be told how something is done or how the voices are made etc. All we can do is follow the Disney example and act and talk like it is real They really are starships. Those computers are real. Once you see how a magic trick is done it loses the "magic". Keep the Center magical for our patrons. 

Also, never discuss future aspects of the mission with campers when they go to bed. 

At the pool on swimming night

Staff and Volunteers, you represent the Center in your communities. Most of your friends and family know you are a volunteer. You are the ones that get asked the questions and hear the comments from our campers both good and bad. Represent us well. Please take all opportunities to tell people about the Space Center and your volunteering. 

We had a parent write Dr. Jacobsen a month ago. The letter was critical about our use of science fiction and drama in the simulators. This parent requested the simulator programs be revised into space shuttle like missions with a complete emphasis on science. The letter 
went on to say that our current approach was a total waste of children's time and had no educational value at all. I've dealt with that in a 10 page letter back to the parent. I did notice though in re-reading the parent's letter a misunderstanding of our mission. This parent thought all we did was the science fiction dramas. He had no idea of all the science we really do at the Center. This is a PR problem we need you to help correct. Please - let's all get the word out that the Space Center is a Utah Arts, Science, Technology Education 

Whenever you talk about the Center really emphasis the science and technology education. Parents and others don't hear that from their kids because the drama of a mission always leaves the most lasting impression. Here are some facts to remember in all future
discussions of the Center:

1. Our primary mission is the daytime field trips for schools. The field trips are the reason for the Center's existence. Each field trip is supported by a complete science curriculum teacher's access on our web site: in the education section.

2. A daytime field trip involved the following:
A. A 50 minute science lesson. This year we are teaching the science of stars.
B. 30 minutes in the Starlab Planetarium covering basic astronomy. Once again - science.
C. Lunch
D. 40 minutes training in the simulators. This is good technology education. The campers are learning how computers can be used as a tool and not just for word procession or games. 
E. 60 minutes in a mission simulation. The simulations reemphasize the classroom lesson. There is good problem solving and higher level thinking skills stressed in the mission along with the use of music, sound, and drama to tell a story. 

3. The Center's Academy Programs:
A. The Center teaches weekday evening classes in astronomy, aviation, and space exploration. 
B. The Oceanography Super Saturday is 3/4's science and history.
C. The computer programming classes.
D. The Starlab Planetarium Teacher Training .
E. The tutoring program offered for students in math and science.

Staff and Volunteers - please take every opportunity to talk about the Center to friends,family, and teachers. Don't worry, they know about the missions so talk to them about the great science we teach as well! Let's get the truth out there. 

Question of the Week for Posting:
Staff and Volunteers. I had someone ask me this week why someone would want to be a volunteer at the Center. It was a parent asking what their child would get out of becoming a volunteer. Would they learn anything or was it all just for fun with no real benefit? I gave them an answer but afterwards wondered if my answer was really on the mark so I thought I'd ask all of you. Please send your answers for next week's Journal. I know you wouldn't come if it wasn't fun but are there any other reasons for being a volunteer? Do you feel you've learned anything? Is volunteering here really worth your time? 

Staff Comments: 
This is the area where I will post the emails sent to me from staff and volunteers. Please keep them coming. Let's not let the egroup be me only. 

Mr. Williamson

Alex Anderson briefing his Phoenix crew

Post from the Past:  David Merrell Says GoodBye to the Space Center. A Sad Day.
The Saddest Part of Being a Center Director.
December 19, 2001

Hello Troops,
Today was a sad day for me and for the Space Center's Field Trip Staff. David Merrell has official left employment of the Space Center and the  Alpine School District. His last mission ended at 1:45 P.M. on December 19, 2001. His last group consisted of 8 fifth graders from 
Shelley Elementary School. 

I asked him how it felt. He replied, "I'm stunned." He then added, "It is a happy stunned." David is ready to devote his full attention and time to school. 

This is the saddest part of being the Director of this place. I'm privileged to be given the opportunity to work with some of the brightest and most talented people in Utah Valley. They start as volunteers - mostly in their early teens. As the years pass I get to see them grow up - Learn to drive - Start dating - Graduate from High School - Start college, or move on to other things. Some go on missions. Others just disappear - never to be heard from again. Then the day comes when the passing of time and the seasons sends them a signal that it is time to think of career and jobs that pay a lot more than the Center. They give notice and leave. With them goes their personality and spirit. I'm left, along with the other staff they 
touched, feeling the loss. 

I'm sitting here at my desk remembering David as a young teen starting as a volunteer. I feel very happy I was able to work with him over these many years. 

Thank you David for the years and the memories. Thank you for the countless unpaid hours working hard to make this Center and its mission come true. Thank you for running the Odyssey. Don't forget the thousands of children you've touched through your story telling. You put magic into their lives if only for a few hours. Look at what you've accomplished! Look at what others your age can say they've done for the community compared to you. 

David. You made a difference. What greater compliment can one give to someone than to say that? 

David walked out the door at 2:15 P.M. The Odyssey sits waiting and watching. 

Lorraine Houston Added the Following 

Victor has given a beautiful and well deserved tribute to David. I would like to add to it and say that his contributions and work in the center have been exceptional, his training of his crews was always thorough and easy to understand. He always smiled and made everyone feel good, and if you needed something he always came through with it. And on occasion he
would bring his mothers delicious puff bread and cherry pies. "David", we love you! You will be missed!
Your Space Center Mom, Lorraine

Jackson, a devoted Space Center fan.

Post from the Past:  Space Center Journal. Loving Christmas Vacation. Landon H., Got his Driver's License. Bryce Redd's Birthday. Magellan Control Room to be Enlarged and Redesigned. Briefing Room Was Recarpeted.
December 24, 2001

Hello Troops,
Christmas Eve. I can feel the joy and jubilation in the minds and hearts of teachers and students. That precious word uttered rarely - but when spoken, said with such reverence to make Holy Mass at Saint Peters in Rome resemble a KISS concert. That word that makes those engaged in the noble endeavor called Education shiver with the same glee as the words "Pay Raise!" The Word ------- VACATION! I hope all are enjoying their VACATION. Enjoy every minute of every day. Remember each rotation brings us closer to January 2nd and the start of  the longest stretch of government endorsed torture - the middle of the 
school year. That stretch of time from Christmas to Spring Break where the hearts of teacher and student grows faint.

Brittney VandenBos briefing her Magellan crew

Landon Hemsley. just got his driver's license! There are rumors his parent's have roped several tires to the front, sides, and back of their car as added protection. 

Happy Birthday to Bryce Redd! You know, I don't know how old Bryce is - maybe 15 or so but he has the argumentative attitude of an 80 year old. Yea Bryce, I said that. You want to argue that one with me. Bring it on dude. Oh, one other thing Bryce. Macs Rule!! Why? Because recent research done by the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center's 
Division of Computer Research has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they are. Dr. William Schuler, Dr. Stephen Porter, Dr. Soren Siebach, and Dr. Matthew Long, all members of the Institute, have finished their research and will be publishing it soon in the Space Center Journal - one of the most widely read periodical for the discriminating reader.

The Magellan control room will be enlarged over Christmas Break. The demolition begins December 26th. 

The Briefing Room was recarpeted on Thursday. The new carpet looks 

It is nice to be rid of that other stained rag. We are all just too rough on carpets. I'm getting ready to ban all walking on the carpets. From now on only hovering allowed. 

Waiting to be placed in a simulator

Tomorrow is Christmas. I want to take a minute and wish all of you a very merry Christmas. I hope Santa is good. I hope your stockings are full with sweets and toys. I hope you all remember that giving gives more blessings than receiving. Don't forget the greatest gifts you can give are friendship, love, respect, and devotion. Give those gifts to those you care about this holiday season and let's also not forget our troops around the world. 

I'll be going to bed around midnight - waiting and watching for old Saint Nick. He was good to me last year so we shall see what he leaves tonight. I think I've been a good boy......
Well, there was the .......Oh, I can't forget about..........OHHHHHH then there is the time that ..........I shouldn't of said that about............ Well at least I'll have enough coal for the fireplace. Oh, yes - there will be enough coal.

Mr. Williamson

The Imaginarium