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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

I Climbed the Five Flights of Stairs and Saw the Promised Land of Simulator Based Learning for the Masses (or My Visit to InfiniD and the Amazing Things I Saw). The Space Center's New Flag. Theater Imaginarium.

InfiniD's Creative Cocoon's inhabitants pouring over demonstrations of the latest in simulator software

     On Friday, April 6th I was invited by my good friends at InfiniD Learning to visit their secluded Creative Cocoon hidden away atop the fifth floor of Telos Academy in Vineyard, Utah. I know my way around Telos from my weekly Space EdVentures meetings held with Dr. Anderson and the Telos Discovery Space Center gang, but gaining access to the InfiniD Level takes a bit of doing.  
     "I'm here to visit InfiniD," I said to the young Telos receptionist on the ground floor.  She looked a bit confused, then understood.  
     "The people on the top floor?" she questioned.  
     "Yes.  Can I take the elevator?" I asked kindly. I didn't want to walk all the way up if it could be avoided.  
     "No, the elevator doesn't go where they are.  You'll need to take the stairs. Do you want me to show you?" Navigating the stairwell wasn't the problem. Getting them to open the door when the InfiniD Imagineers are light years away riding waves of pure imagination was.  She grabbed her keys and up the many stairs we climbed.  Happily the door at the top was open and into one of the nation's centers of innovation and creativity did I step.  
     "Mr. Williamson!" I heard from up and down the hallway. It was a kind reception offered to someone noticeably out of breath and sporting lips with a light blue hue. 


The Vineyard Telos Campus, Home to the Telos Discovery Space Center and InfiniD Learning

     Casey Voeks sat me next to him and gave me a full description of the architecture behind InfiniD's next generation software.  I won't say I was blown away, that phrase isn't suitable for someone soon to be six decades old in June (I can't bring myself to say sixty).  Let me say I was impressed with the sophistication programed into the controls.  A level of sophistication that will make the new simulator software simple to operate yet robust enough to easily run an InfiniD Lab in any school worldwide - even that elderly teacher who still takes attendance with paper and pencil and calculates grades with an abacus.  
     I hesitated to offer an idea or two thinking Casey might reply by saying, "Thank you Mr. Williamson, but your ideas are as dated as your wardrobe."  Instead he kindly listened and may use them.  
     "Hey, let's get you a permanent and forever place in InfiniD lab simulators," Casey said.  "We're going to program an 'Admiral Williamson's' quarters into the ship's deck plans. There you go, you're going to live on beyond the grave."  There was something reassuring in his words.  Think of the thousands and thousands of students who will forever wonder who this Admiral Williamson is and why he isn't the one commanding their ship on the bridge.

InfiniD's Programming Team:  Brian Peterson, Danny Harding, Amy Jeppson,  Braysen Goodwin, and Alex Wilson

      At the end of the room sat the programmers converting Casey's imagineering, ramblings, simple drawings, and inspirations into code; not an easy task at all.
     "Casey, what is this?" one of them held up a note with writing that resembled my old doctor's handwritten prescriptions from thirty years ago. 
     "Look at me," Casey replied. "Look right into my eyes. I'll transfer my thoughts into your brain. It's the fastest way to explain."   Yes folks, these InfiniD folks are psychically connected. It has to do with quantum entanglements or something.  

InfiniD's Graphic Art Team. Connor Thompson, Carson Thompson, and Kendrick Gines.

     The graphic artists sit at the other end of the room illustrating the look and feel of the InfiniD controls, universe, and curriculum.  During the morning "Show and Tell" meeting we walked from station to station looking at their latest creations.  I kept thinking how nice it would be if I had a team of artist like this to help me with my Voyager missions.  Can I just say that this new software is going to be a game changer for the space edventuring world.   

Isaac Baker, InfiniD's young intern, working on an idea for an InfiniD school based club.  He comes down from Layton
to meet with the team. That is dedication.
After the Friday "Show and Tell" session. Time to eat and collaborate.
        
     Casey Voeks, Skyler Carr, and Brooks Heder are the Henry Fords of this educational movement begun so long ago in room 19 at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  Henry Ford changed the way automobiles were manufactured. He invented the assembly line. Until then, cars were made one by one in shops. With Ford's innovations, cars became mainstream and less expensive to purchase and maintain.  InfiniD is pioneering the very concepts of what simulators are and how simulations are run in the educational setting.  
     Having to build expensive simulators was the main thing that stifled the adoption of simulator based experiential learning.  InfiniD has that problem solved with their computer lab InfiniD simulators.
     Another brake on simulator learning was talent. Even if your school could afford to build a brick and mortar dedication starship simulator, who would run it?  Who has that rare combination of creativity, technological knowledge, political correctness, educational background, acting skills, love of science fiction, love of simulation learning, and patience - lots of patience? These people are rare. InfiniD is solving that problem by developing software which takes almost all of the heavy lifting of running a simulator off the backs of an educator or aide and puts it into the software. To sum up, InfiniD is finding the ways to make simulators and experiential learning affordable and doable for the masses.


Brooks Heder led a team building discussion after lunch
    
      I enjoyed my time in InfiniD's sky high Creative Cocoon.  The team is young and enthusiastic.  They have a vision and a desire to change the way children learn.  This type of learning is the future, whether it be in school based simulators or through virtual reality - it is the future.  InfiniD wants to be in the forefront.
     Is there then a place for school based full sized dedicated simulators like the ones found at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, Telos Discovery Space Center, The Lions Gate Center, Dream Flight Adventures, and Farpoint?  Absolutely!  These places are destination learning centers. They offer camps, parties, corporate retreats, field trips, classes, planetarium shows, etc. They offer targeted learning experiences in more depth than can be offered in a laboratory that functions both as a school computer lab and a simulator. However, as I said earlier, such Centers are destinations. You travel to them to experience simulations on a grander scale. They are not, and never will be, an item you find in every school district due to their construction costs and staffing. Both InfiniD computer lab simulators, and dedicated starship simulator sets fulfill a purpose unique to themselves.     
     To learn more about InfiniD and find out how you can have an InfiniD Lab in your school, contact Brooks Heder.  He'll be happy to come out and do a demonstration for your school's administrators and teachers.  Brooks@infinidlearning.com

Mr. Williamson    

      
Mason of Gallifrey, the CMSEC's Resident Time Lord and Consultant of Historical Truths, Designs the Space Center's New Flag.

     I had the opportunity to acquire one of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic flag poles after the games ended and had it delivered to the school. I wanted the flagpole to fly the flag of the earth over the school and space center.  Maybe some of you old time staff and volunteers remember the flag.


The Flag of the Earth

     It was large and looked real good fluttering against the blue sky.  Over the following year or two Utah's weather had its way with the flag.  I had it taken down and never purchased another.  They were expensive and didn't want to make it a regular expense.  The flagpole sat flagless for the last 13 years until this month. 



     Mr. James Porter, Director of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, sponsored a staff and volunteer flag design contest.  Mason, the Space Center's resident Time Lord, submitted the winning design. 

Mason, the Time Lord
     I have my suspicions on where he got the idea.  Using his Tardis, I suspect Mason travelled into the future, looked at the flag high atop the flagpole, returned to the present, drew what he had seen and submitted it to Mr. Porter to secure the win. Mason denies it. He even denies his heritage as a Time Lord, but anyone with eyes can see what he sports on his wrists.  

Mason's Collection of Time Lord Wrist Apparel



     So the next time you drive by the Space Center stop, get out of your car, and salute this new flag flying proudly over the second happiest place on Earth (sorry if my Disney Proud is showing)

Mr. Williamson


Theater Imaginarium
The Best Gifs from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience.


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