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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center and Central Elementary School are not Utah's Only Public School District Combined Space Center and School. Casey Voeks Remembers his First and Newest School Stage Simulator. A New Mission on the Hyperion at Telos Discovery. Meet Brandon Pace, Another Right Person at the Right Time. From the Archives and Historical Pictures. Theater Imaginarium.

AstroCamp and Odyssey Elementary School. Another Example of a Utah Space Camp and School Combined and Part of a Public School District.

Hello Space EdVenturers,
     The combined campus of Central Elementary School and the Christa McAuliffe Space Center isn't the only double space center and school in Utah.  The Ogden School District has its own AstroCamp combined with Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden.  
     AstroCamp started around the same time I created the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in 1990.  It was founded by Ed and Lois Douglas.

Ed and Lois Douglas at the Grand Opening of Odyssey Elementary School and Astrocamp
August 2007
     AstroCamp was housed in a building which was once a part of the state school for the blind. It had classrooms and an entire floor of dorm rooms.  In 2005 it was decided to move AstroCamp into the soon to be built Odyssey Elementary School.  Ed and Lois met with the school's architects to design the school and especially the AstroCamp portion of the campus.  The camp needed classrooms, a space shuttle simulator, a mission control area and of course sleeping accommodations.  AstroCamp offers overnight summer space camps.  In the end it was decided to use the school's classrooms for sleeping rooms during the summer months. 

     Kyle Herring and I were invited to attend the grand opening of the new AstroCamp and Odyssey Elementary School in August 2007.  I got the VIP tour from Ed and Lois.  Of course I took numerous pictures thinking they might come in handy someday when a new Central Elementary School and Space Center would be built.  Well, that someday has come.  So here are those pictures. Perhaps they may come in useful as the Space Center staff and Alpine School District officials finalized plans for the new Space Center and Central Elementary School. 

The hallway leading to the Space Shuttle's Entrance

Kyle examining the hallway and spinning chair room
The Spinning Chair. What a great learning tool.

A closer look at the hallway struts giving the camp that futuristic look.

Even the support beam was decorated

The cockpit of the space shuttle Phoenix.  Yes, this was located in nose cone sticking out over the front of the school

The shuttle's three main engines

The shuttle's main engines with the overlook to the lower section.

The school's library has the cool upward Disney inspired arches.

The front of the school has arched poles to hang camp banners
    Is it a coincidence that Utah has these two prodigious programs which perfectly mirror each other in scope and design?  Both started at the same time. Both located in title one elementary schools. Both operated by public school districts. Both the pride of their communities.  Strange how things turn out the way they do.
     AstroCamp and the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center sponsored joint summer space camps for many years. The campers started at AstroCamp on a Monday for their two night camp.  They were bussed to us in Pleasant Grove on the Wednesday for the our two night camp.  It was a good partnership that gave Utah's students the best space camp experience anyone could have. 

Mr. Williamson 

After Nearly 20 Years, InfiniD Brings Space Simulations Back to Cherry Hill Elementary School in Orem

Casey has come full circle from Stage to Stage
The InfiniD Lab Crew Flying on Their School's Stage

     Cherry Hill Elementary School in Orem, Utah is one of the newest schools in the growing InfiniD fleet of InfiniD Lab simulators.  Cherry Hill Elementary has always been one of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center's biggest supporters having sent students there on field trips since the early 1990's and sponsoring one to two Friday overnight camps every year.  
     Did you know that Cherry Hill Elementary had a simulator of its own for a short while? It is this simulator that gave Casey Voeks his start in the business nearly 20 years ago. I remember Casey contacting me about his school ship. We spoke a few times by phone. He had numerous questions on how things worked. I did my best to answer them and was pleased when he reported back that they'd reached their fundraising goal. 

Casey (right) on a CMSEC Summer Camp in July 2002
I'm guessing all his spare money went to camps at the Space Center back in the day.
Smart Space Center Directors should always be on the lookout for those super devoted kids. They are the next
movers and shakers in this endeavor.

     Recently Casey reminisced about his school starship and where it has taken him today.     
     Almost 20 years ago my sixth grade class embarked on a project to raise money for humanitarian aid kits. We opted out of the typical bake sale and instead convinced Mrs. Jennifer Price Carver and our principal to allow us to convert the stage of our school into the bridge of a space ship.     We had an elaborate plan that was student driven. Laurie Hite sewed the uniforms with a team including I believe Katie Knoell and others. Rachel Konishi talked Novell into donating the computers for the space ship. Luke Harrison helped ‘code’ the software. Everyone else in class helped staff the missions. We easily hit our fundraising goals and I was blown away by the thrill of the experience.     This week I ran missions on the stage of another elementary school 50 miles North in Kaysville. The principal expressed remorse for having their ship be a stage. I told her it was my favorite one in our ‘fleet.’ She listened for the full story about our days as Carvers crew at Cherry Hill. She agreed to keep their ship on the stage.     It’s the greatest to get to continue to do what I love after 20 years. 

The Capella Incident  
A New Farpoint Mission Aboard the Jumpship Hyperion in Orem.
The Hyperion's behind the scenes Imagineers

Hello Space EdVenturers,

     Head to your nearest Space EdVenture Center if you're looking for the best local science fiction adventure for your group.  Last week I introduced you to a new 5 hour mission aboard the Jumpship Voyager at the Space Academy in Lehi.  Today The Troubadour is highlighting a new mission found only at the Telos Discovery Space Center at TelosU in Orem.  This mission is flown on the Jumpship Hyperion.  

     The Capella Incident is a mystery story set in a system known for both thriving industry and extensive black market activity. Your ship is deployed to Capella to investigate an inexplicable communications outage. You are tasked with restoring communication, protecting the civilian population, tracking down criminals, and ensuring that our undercover agent is able to complete his mission.
     Bring along your favorite crew and unravel the enigma of the Capella Incident!

Brandon Pace is the Head Custodian for both Central Elementary School and the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. The Right Man for the Right Job at the Right Time: The Story of the Space Center

Brandon Pace
  Haven't I always said, "The right people show up at the right time," in regards to the mysterious luck the Space Center has had over its twenty nine year history?  Just when I needed extra help, or needed someone in a supportive position to make the Center's goals a reality, that person would show up.  I'm sure Mr. Porter would agree with me when I think of the people who've stepped forward to help him realize the new Space Center. 
     This fact was driven home recently when I visited Central Elementary School for the announcement of the million dollar donation assembly.  Walking down the hallway was a familiar face, the face of an old volunteer from years back. "Brandon!" I said, "Long time no see." 
     "I'm the head custodian here now," he said.  I shouldn't have been surprised knowing how the Fortunes have taken care of the place for so many years, but I was. Brandon was a great volunteer, and to have him in place for this massive change as the school transitions from its current location and into a new building is just what the CMSC needs.  Brandon is the right man for the job to support and help the Space Center staff move into the new school in the spring of 2020 and adjust to the new building.  Don't we all know how important a supportive head custodian is in the proper running of a school, especially one tied to a very busy space center. 

From the Archives of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center
The Space Center Journal 

April 6, 2003

Mr Williamson giving the "Welcome to the Space Center, here are the rules" speech to a new crop of
young space campers attending a three day overnight camp
June 2008
Isoliner Chips
     Mr. Dan Adams, former principal of Central Elementary, the driving force in the construction of the Magellan and Situation Room, and Kyle Herring's partner in refitting the old Provo District Questar to the Galileo, has answer the call for "Help!" and returned with tools in hand to build and insert the new BYU made isoliner modules in the Voyager, Magellan, and Odyssey. Dan has been working for the last two – three weeks on the project. To date the Odyssey and the Voyager are completed. The Magellan is waiting on a concept design.

Ian McOmber arriving for the camp
June 2008
     With the chips in place, programming now becomes the limiting issue.  Matt Long has taken up the challenge and is currently programmingHis suggestion was to take some of our older computers and tie them to the modules. With a dedicated computer, the modules will operated as they were intended –- to monitor the placement of the chips and telling
all the computers in the simulator (particularly in the control room) what is in and what isn't.

Very happy campers ready for their 3 days in space
June 2008

     With that knowledge the Set Director can decided if the station is to be automatic or controlled. Automatic simply means that if the engineer doesn't have the correct chips in
the correct slots, then those stations are automatically shut down in the simulator. This will result in a great deal of pressure on the engineer and a little loss of control by the Flight Director. 

     Controlled operation means only the control room would be notified if 
the wrong chips were in the wrong place. The decision on what to do at that point would be the Flight Directors. Will he make those systems shut down or cut the kid some slack and give him/her a warning and more time to correct the problem. There are good arguments for both
systems. I think I'll see if we can accommodate both. It may just be a matter of programming. 

     I want to thank Mr. Adams for his generosity with his time and talent. I also want to thank Matt Long for his dedication and willingness to help us get these modules in and running before our April deadline. Kyle Herring has also stepped up to the plate with the wiring. These modules will make a tremendous addition to the realism of the simulators! 
     Let's not forget to thank Matt's dad, Professor David Long at BYU for creating this learning experience for his engineering students and supporting the Space Center for several years. This partnership is a win/ win situation for all involved. 
     Thank you Dr. Long and students, Mr. Adams, Matt and Kyle!

The campers listening intently to Mr. Williamson as he gives his rules speech.
I wonder if the "Happy Bucket" part has been delivered?

Words of Encouragement
     This journal not only keeps all of you up to date on Space Center news but is also my way of thanking people that have made a difference. This week I want to recognize
The awesome daytime staff: Lorraine Houston and Chris Call. 
     We have a great daytime staff that all do their job but none so dedicated as these two. The Center couldn't operate the daytime field trips without them. They never call in sick. They are at the Center everyday even on those days when it takes all they've got to come and face 60 students who are bouncing off the walls with excitement and energy. Imagine doing the same mission or teaching the same lesson two to three times a day five days a week. It is mind numbing yet that is what we do. You really have to work to maintain a positive attitude. 
     I want them to know that I appreciate and notice this dedicationThey aren't paid enough for what they give us but they gladly give it anyway. Their positive attitude is contagious and brightens the day. 

Mr. Williamson in full speech mode. Notice the massive keychain dangling from his pocket
Remember his swinging them around as he walked?

The Interns
     I can't say enough good about Julie Colette, Josh Babb, Metta Smith, Landon Hemsley, and Alex DeBirkThey come to the Center every other day as High School Interns. They
work unpaid rarely missing a day. They also face the same boredom of repetition that haunts Lorraine and Chris

Rio Downs and Tear

     Tear works every day two to four hours. Many of you don't know Tear because he doesn't do overnighters but he is good and very patient. 
Rio Downs works on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rio is one of those rare individuals who is goal driven and truly cares about her performance. If you put Rio in charge of something it will get done right the first time. 

"Nobody plays on the big toys at the south end of the playground," 

A Needed Rest for the Voyager and Mr. Williamson
     Many have noticed that the Voyager has been closed for overnight mission the last two weeks. I could have filled the missions but I needed a bit of a break. Usually I have to stay at the Center on Saturdays until 5:00 P.M. getting things done in addition to my normal
work schedule. By closing the Voyager I was free to leave at a reasonable time for once on a Saturday. Everything is back to normal this week. The Voyager will fly again on Friday evening. 

The speech is given. Now it is time to get the campers into three groups for
ship and class assignments.  We took around 60 campers per camp every week back then.

Mr. Bill Schuler Overnight Camp Photos: A Success
     Mr. Schuler purchased a nice digital camera and photo printer. Last week we decided to take pictures of each crew in costume in their simulators and offer them for sale on Saturday morning to the parents. It was a success two weeks ago and more of a success yesterday. We sold ten pictures at $7.00 per photo. This generates a bit of cash for the Center and gives campers a nice souvenir to take home. This will be a standard offering at the Center from now on. Thanks Bill for taking on this responsibility and doing such a good job at it.

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

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