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

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Troubadour, Semi-Live From the Black Hills of Dakota. The Space Academy's Leadership Camp, A Great Time Had by All. Thank you for the Birthday Wishes. The CMSC is Cleaning House for the Big Move. Anything Interesting to You? The Imaginarium.

The Space Academy's June 24-27th Leadership Space Camp Staff and Cadets
     Renaissance Space Academy held its first space camp for the 2019 summer season last week running from June 24-27th with more to come in July and August.  This camp's focus was leadership training - preparing our cadets to be tomorrow's leaders. 
     From 8:00 - Noon each day the cadets were instructed by Major Vidinha, Renaissance Academy's middle school science teacher and a retired major in the United States Army.  The cadets spent several hours learning how to command and lead effectively.

The Academy Cadets in the gym learning to command a platoon and issue effective and clear orders
Time for a quick break before moving to their next activity
Saving the universe from those who wish us harm is hard work requiring a bit of time in the holodeck to unwind.
The June 24-27 Space Academy leadership Camp
     Proper instruction begins with clear learning objectives; then comes practice to enforce the learning and give it a practical application. The Space Academy follows this instructional strategy. 
     After lunch, the cadets were given mission objectives, a mission briefing, and then sent into the Academy's two state of the art starship simulators to put what they learned into practice.  

Lunch is over and now it's time for the cadets to put what they learned in the leadership classes under Major Vidinha  to the test in the Space Academy's two simulators: The Nighthawk and the Voyager

     Space Academy Leadership Camp cadets spent their afternoons in the Academy's two simulators: the Nighthawk and the Voyager.  The two ships were joined in the same mission with the small Nighthawk running short and daring side missions to compliment the Voyager's primary mission objective.   

The Renaissance Space Academy, where theory and practice meet preparing students for the wonders of what is to come
      The leadership space camp was an awesome start to the summer camp season.  
     The Space Academy experience is directed and taught by a gifted and talented faculty who have decades of experience running space camps. Six of the Academy's faculty are educators at two Utah charter schools, two of whom are former directors of Alpine School District's Christa McAuliffe Space Center.  We are proud of the program we've developed and welcome you to join us this summer for our unique space camp experience. 
Mr. Williamson

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center is Clearing House for the Big Move in April. Anything Interest You?

     The CMSC is clearing out some long term storage items today as they prep for the new building. This gives you a bit of a peek at history when you consider a 5 CD changer worked for some simulators, but others used the big whopper of 300 disks. You also see our bone yard of smoke machines and other various tools that served their time well before being put to rest.  Nostalgia definitely kicks in followed by excitement for what's to come.
     Much of this will be for sale on the Alpine School District Surplus site for those interested.
Contact James Porter for more information.

For the Next Two Weeks The Troubadour Will be Headquartered at Thunder Gulch in the Beautiful Town of Deadwood, South Dakota. 

My green and yellow John Deere (or Green Bay Packers) colored home on Williams Street

     The Troubadour will be headquartered out of my home (Thunder Gulch) in Deadwood, South Dakota for the next two weeks. Every year I need to return to my roots in the Black Hills to recharge and relax.  Thunder Gulch is full all summer with family and friends who, like me, have found refuge from life's trials and tribulations in the green, ponderosa pines of these ancient mountains. 

The Welcome Mat. Deadwood is only a few miles from Sturgis, home of the big motorcycle rally held every year.

     When we get bored of home projects we cross the street, go down a few stairs onto a parking structure, then down the elevator and step onto Deadwood's busy main street, a tourist mecca with old west gambling, shopping, restaurants, and main street shootouts twice a day as the sheriff goes after that cowardly Jack McCall, who shot Wild Bill Hickok right there in Saloon #10.   

      I've got my full set up taking up the dining room table. That's ok, we take our meals on the deck anyway. By the way, my brother in law is the artist (Bob Coronado) who does those rodeo posters you see behind my chair. 
     Now, If you'll set your eyes on the photo above the fireplace........ 

     We Dakota Williamson's had our picture took down at the Photo Emporium to go above the fireplace.  This is the clan all together, rascals and all.  We know our way around a six shooter and don't tolerate fools easily.     
     If you're having a hankering for an old west experience then I urge you to satisfy that itch in the Black Hills of Dakota.  


Thank You for the Kind Birthday Wishes

Thank you all for helping me into 61 years kindly, warmly, and gracefully

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

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Thorium Advisory Board Meets. The Space Academy's Cool New Entrance. The Space Academy Welcomes Sam Golding to the LDM Staff. Imaginarium Theater.

The Thorium Board Met in the USS Voyager's Briefing Room

The Thorium Advisory Board Met for Its Quarterly Meeting Last Week
     Thorium is the software used by experiential simulators flying the Space EdVentures' flag.  Thorium is the brainchild of Alex Anderson, who also does most of the programming. 
The Thorium Advisory Board consists of the directors (or their representatives) of the five Space EdVentures Centers; The Christa McAuliffe Space Center, Telos Discovery Space Center, Reality's Edge Space Center, Renaissance Space Academy, and the Lion's Gate Center.  Other members of the Board are Isaac Ostler and Crystal Anderson.
     This short video answers the question, "What is Thorium?"

     Of the several topics discussed the most exciting was the work of a German programmer who has programmed DNS lighting controls into Thorium.  The groups also discussed the universal "sandbox" concept of mission development along with the possible use of Thorium to track volunteer hours and advancements.

Look at the New Graphics on the Space Academy's Entrance Doors    

     Visitors to Renaissance Space Academy first see the name of the school as they drive up the road.  Another sign posted at the school's entrance directs visitors to the back parking lot and the entrance to the Space Academy

     At the end of the front parking lot is another sign directing traffic to the back of the school.

     The Nighthawk sits near the Space Academy's entrance.  The entrance is on the right of the Nighthawk.  Recently new signage was applied to the doors.  

      Bracken Funk designed the signs and pretty much covered all the bases when it comes to the Farpoint Universe. We have the Academy's logo on the top left. Under it is the Academy's motto which was inspired by the writings of  Mortimer Adler, who wrote the following in his 1940 book, "How to Read a Book".   

“Education: the central aim of which has always been recognized, from Socrates’ day down to our own, as the freeing of the mind through the discipline of wonder.” 

      The Academy's motto reads: "Our mission is to educate all minds using the Discipline of Wonder."   Under that are the hours of operation, the web site, and a little something I came up with.  "Imagination, Faster than Light". 
     The right door has the Terran Space Command logo and a welcome to Terran Space Command headquarters. Under that is the UN Logo for the unified space authority and finally the words "Serve, Inspire, Lead".  
     Visitors enter this door and directly on their right is the Voyager's Briefing Room. How easy is that?  

Mr. Williamson

Sam Golding Joins the Space Academy Staff

A few of the Voyager's staff and volunteers were on hand to welcome Sam to Team Voyager. Sam is sitting at the 2FX station next to Bracken Funk.

     Sam Golding got the news at the start of a Voyager private mission last Saturday. Sam was sitting next to Bracken at the 2FX station when Bracken offered the job,  "Hey Sam, how about joining our paid staff for the LDM program this school year."  Sam accepted the offer and that is that. Sam and Livy Charles will be taking the places of Spencer Baird and Jensen Caldwell who will be leaving for LDS missions in September.  Sam and Livy will join Ethan, Brad, and Dylan working the Young Astronaut Long Duration Missions from 3:30 - 6:00 P.M. 

Imaginarium Theater
The best videoettes from around the world edited for a gentler audience.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Good Luck, Have Fun, Don’t Die." A Science Fiction Live Streamed Web Series Filmed on the USS Voyager. The USS Nighthawk Earns its Space Worthiness Certificate. Congratulations John Robe. Imaginarium Theater.

Nathan Young Getting the Feel of the USS Voyager at the Space Academy for his New Web Series
Home Away from Home. The Spirit of the Voyager I Lives On.

Live From the Space Academy, the Live Streamed Web Series "Good Luck, Have Fun, Don’t Die" on the USS Voyager 
Development Update Number 1

By Nathan Young

     So, we’ve got this project.
     It’s a pretty crazy project.

     It’s a film/theater/space center/web series/reality TV/live streaming amalgamation. That description doesn’t really explain anything about it, I know, but believe me, it has been hard
enough trying to find a concise way to describe what this project. We told everybody “experimental livestreamed science-fiction web series,” but it became very clear very quickly that nobody knew what that meant. It took me an hour and a half to get my production crew on the same page as me, and that included being able to show pictures and videos and answer a flurry of questions. Suffice it to say that I believe my chances of being able to describe in a short post what this thing is supposed to be are low, even after spending a hundred and fifty hours working on it.

Nathan in the Voyager's Control Room.  Jordan Smith, Phoenix Flight Director, is Assisting

     Maybe those of you with a space center background will get a glimpse of it by following this train of thought: we live in a world with VR headsets and massive multibillion dollar corporations who operate in the same type of space that our beloved space centers do. Star Trek: Bridge Crew is essentially what we do, but with some really cool 3D renderings. The new Millennium Falcon attraction at Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland will operate as a simulator essentially. Check out this report from entertainment news site Polygon:
     “On opening day, each Galaxy’s Edge land will only have one of its two new attractions in operation. It’s called Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and it promises to be a highlight for Star Wars fans of any age. “The first proper trailer for the ride shows a simulated cockpit with room for six, including four captain’s chairs and two of the larger, high-backed chairs with aggressively curved headrests seen in the movies. The action appears outside the cockpit canopy. Expect some kind of elaborate projection onto a conical area just in front of the cockpit, similar to what they use to shoot the modern films.     “It’s an interactive experience. Participants each get a role, including pilot, gunner, and flight engineer. As the ride progresses, the individual controls all around the cockpit dashboards light up. Early reports compare it to the hit mobile game Spaceteam, a kind of electronic party game that thrives on good communication.”
     My first thoughts about this were, in order: “WOW. That’s going to be so cool!” and then “Oh snap. That’s basically what we’ve been doing since 1990. And now Disney is going to do it with a budget a hundred thousand times larger than ours.”

Getting the Sound Right is a Must for a Live Streamed Production.  The Sound Crew at Work
Under the Voyager's Damage Control Station Platform
      I’m a student in the Media Arts program at BYU, learning about all kinds of new media forms. We live in a world of podcasts, 360 degree videos, augmented reality, social media, and live streamed video games.  We are on a frontier of new ways to create and find entertainment: which is something that hasn’t happened since the television first entered homes across the world in the early in the 1950’s. And this time, it’s going to be even more mind-boggling. We’re approaching our second generation of Virtual Reality devices. 300 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube each minute. We’re just a few steps in processing power away from having full holographic technology. Who knows what will be coming
around the bend 10 years from now?

Lighting on the Voyager is Tricky. Like its Sister Ships, the Voyager's Bridge Tends to Shine Dark

     As I’ve reflected on my decade-or-so with the Space EdVentures community, I thought about where we fit into all of this. In many ways, we’re still doing things that we were doing back when we were on the cutting edge of science and technology in the 90’s. The problem is: we’re definitely not there right now. A talking computer used to be a novelty, but now there are over 22 talking computer systems on the market. Open-world video games provide more freedom and options than most of our regular missions.
     D-Box seats at the movie theaters provide actual physical responses to the special effects of movies, whereas all we have are smoke machines and lights on dimmers.  I feel like the right way to respond to this new world of interactive entertainment is to distinguish
ourselves as something more than a physical Star Trek Bridge Crew experience. I think that we need to start thinking of the Space Center as a platform, not a product. The folks at Telos are already thinking in this same direction- as they’ve adapted the Space Center formula to use it in therapeutic settings. So is Devin Sudweeks, who recently pitched a project where he would use Thorium controls to create an archeological dig site. Brylee-Ann Perry created an escape room in one of the ships, drawing upon the unique opportunities a simulator/FD/crew dynamic presents. These examples use the concept of a ‘’flight” as a basis for something more, not just as the end product itself. They lean into the fact that our
greatest strength- the thing that Disney can’t do- is put an actual storyteller on the other end of all of panels and computers to breathe life into the experience.

Jordan Smith Learning the Ins and Outs of the Voyager
     That’s what this project is hoping to do. We’re going to use the platform of the Space Center to create something alive- a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts that highlight all of the best parts of what we do. So here’s that project description again: “An experimental livestreamed improvisational science-fiction web series.”
     Let’s break that down.
Experimental: Nobody has ever done anything quite like this before, so we’re  figuring it out as we go. We’re not totally sure if it’s going to work.Live Streamed: This will be broadcast live via Twitch and possibly YouTube. This brings a dimension of authenticity to the piece- as viewers will know that all of the insanity is happening in real-time. (As a bonus, it means that we don’t have to do any post-production.) Cameras will be placed both in the ship and in the control room, so that audiences will be able to see everything that is going on both in the simulator and behind-the-scenes. The show is, ultimately, about its own creation as much as its about the story that is taking place.Improvisational: This project will not be scripted. It won’t even have a pre-written mission. It will work more like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, where the crew and the Flight Director are responding to each other in real time as they create an interesting and compelling narrative. Actors will be playing characters, (much like how our staff all don the accents and personalities of their chief engineer characters when they go on test flights,) but they’ll be going in to each scenario completely blind.Science-Fiction: We’re going to be using a small corner of the Farpoint Universe as the setting for the show. We’re developing a very specific and exciting visual/audio design for it all. We’ve got 5 composers making us original music for the show. We’ve got lighting technicians and 3D animators onboard. We’ve even got a foley team to build us custom sound-effects for the ship that match the aesthetic we’ve developed. Tonally, it’ll be a lot like Firefly or Guardians of the Galaxy- where your ragtag group of misfits and scoundrels with hearts of gold are trying to scrape their way by. (It’ll be a lot less edgy than those examples, though.)Webseries: This is going to be a long-form narrative, where each episode continues the story from the one before. The first one will air on July 18 th , and then the rest of our run will happen on each Thursday night in August. We’re planning on 5-6 episodes total.
Matt Ricks is Part of the Production Team.
Matt Ricks is an Amazing Person, A True Friend to the Space Academy and the CMSC
     Hopefully that gives you some idea of what this is supposed to be. Judging by how my conversations have gone with actors and technicians, it is probably a fuzzy picture at best. I’ll be sending Mr. Williamson more updates as we go, so check back in with the blog. Also keep your eyes peeled for when we launch our social media accounts within the next few
weeks. If you have any questions or are interested in getting involved, shoot us an email at It’s going to be an adventure!
Nathan Young
Good Luck, Have Fun, Don’t Die.

The USS Nighthawk's First Shakedown Cruise Before its Official Launch on June 24

Spencer Baird, Nighthawk Set Director at the Space Academy in the Nighthawk's
Sardine Can of a Control Room.  Neither Mr. Funk nor I can fit Into that room so Spencer got the job.
I suppose there was the other qualification, Spencer Knows What He's Doing!

     The Nighthawk (formally the USS Titan) is a joint simulator based experiential education project between the Space Academy and InfiniD Learning (thank you Casey and Skyler). The simulator was built with a large grant from US Synthetic - Thank You!
     The Nighthawk has one feature none of the other Space EdVentures simulators have, it is easily mobile.  Yes, the Valiant can be moved - but not easily; that's the trick.  The Nighthawk is the USS Voyager's sister ship at the Renaissance Space Academy.

    The Nighthawk is scheduled to launch on its first missions for the Space Academy's Leadership Space Camp on June 24-25.  It will fly a tandem mission with the USS Voyager.  
     Spencer Baird, the Nighthawk's Set Director, spent numerous volunteer hours getting the ship ready for Saturday's shakedown cruise into the unknown.  There was much to do before Terran Space Command would issue a flight certificate authorizing the starship for space duty.  Equipment had to be purchased (thank you Mr. Ursic), installed, and tested.  Helping in the endeavor was Jennie Steeneck.  Spencer was also grateful his enthusiastic little brother Jackson helped by staying out of his way.

Spencer and Jackson

     The flight worthiness certificate mission launched yesterday at 4:15 P.M. The brave crew of test pilots known for nerves of steel, sat in the Voyager's Briefing Room for their instructions.    

      "You're here because you're the best," Spencer explained.  You don't crack under pressure, even if the ship is flying itself apart - you hold it together.  Being test pilots you know each mission could be your last. Trust me, I've gone over the Nighthawk exhaustively and run every equipment check known. I trust this ship and know it will bring you back safely..... but you never know, right?  Be sure you have your next of kin paperwork filled out before boarding - just a formality."  And with that, Spencer briefed the crew on their objectives to pass the certification test. 
     With objectives in hand, the test crew boarded the ship and launched.   

     There were a few rocky moments. There was the jump core meltdown which was quickly averted by Ethan's quick thinking.  There was the excellent piloting skill of Jackson. There was superb navigation by Lalith not to mention Jack's fine touch on the weapon's systems.  All in all, a job well done. 

     The Nighthawk returned to starbase in one piece. The cleaning crew rushed in to handle a nasty splash or two on the floor and walls caused by a few crew members who weren't prepared for a sudden failure of the inertial dampeners, but they'll live to tell the tale, minus their lunch.  
     And now, representing Terran Space Command, I'm pleased to present the Nighthawk with its Flight Certificate.  Well done Spencer and team!

Admiral Williamson

Congratulations John Robe, a Former CMSEC Volunteer and Programmer. 

Hello Space EdVenturers!
     Many of you old timers remember John Robe, a fantastic CMSEC volunteer and member of the Space Center's Programming Guild.  John worked alongside Matt Long and Tyler Gardner in programming controls for the Voyager, Phoenix, and Galileo. John graduated from university, married Rebekah Blackburn, and just recently got a great job.  He posted this to his Facebook page.
     So, it's official now! I just got a new job with Amazon - as a Software Development Engineer II. I'll be working on Amazon's AWS platform, which is effectively "The Cloud", and I'll be working in Seattle - which means, I'm moving!It's a crazy, fast, and amazing opportunity that came almost out of nowhere and I'm really excited! Also, if you've known me well for a while you'd know that getting a job as a software developer/engineer at one of the large tech companies has always been on the top of the "Life Goals" list, so this really is a dream of mine finally being fulfilled!     I'll be moving up to Seattle this Saturday (they wanted me to start ASAP) - but will be doing a slow move, so I'll still be in Utah from time to time for the next year or so.
     I sent our congratulations to John.  He was kind to reply with the following, which speaks highly of our volunteering programs.  We love our Volunteers!  
Hey Vic! I just saw your comment on my post and I just wanted to take a second and tell you thank you! I really, truly, wouldn’t be where I am today without your incredible influence. Anytime anyone asks something like “how’d you know what you wanted to do when you were older?” or “how’d you start programming?” or “how’d you get where you are?” I always start with “Well, have you heard of this place called the Christa McAuliffe Space Center down in pleasant grove?”. I remember the first day I got an email from you, about accepting my application to become a volunteer. I was so excited, I loved the field trip that I went on, and I knew that it would be so much fun to be a part of that. Little did I know then, that receiving that one email would be a changing point of my life. I really don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for the programming guild. It put me light years ahead in terms of my education for my profession, it effectively got me my full tuition scholarship to the University of Utah, and now I can say it was the starting point to reaching my dream. Anyway, sorry for the tangent, but I really do want to thank you again for what you’ve done! The space center was the the first step to getting me where I am.

Again, Congratulations John and thank you for your service to Utah's students.

Mr. Williamson 

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Videoettes of the Week from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Announcing the USS Cassini; Soon to be The Newest Ship in the Space EdVentures Fleet. What Does a German Programmer, Thorium, and the Christa McAuliffe Space Center Have in Common? The Magellan's New Mission "Divided We Fall". The Imaginarium.

The Cassini Probe at Saturn;  The USS Cassini Concept Render

The USS Cassini A New Starship Soon to Launch at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center

     I'm a little bit late to the party on this announcement but better late than never. As many of you know, a new Christa McAuliffe Space Center is under construction along with a new Central Elementary School.

     The new CMSC will have six simulators and a 40 ft. tall planetarium.  Four of the new ships will be named after the four current simulators at the CMSC:  The Galileo, Odyssey, Magellan, and Phoenix.  The two new simulators were nameless until a month ago when the name of one was released.  Welcome USS Cassini to the growing number of Space EdVentures simulators.  The name of the last new ship is a closely guarded secret known only to Mr. Porter himself. 
     The Cassini is named after the Cassini space probe.  
     For more than a decade, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shared the wonders of Saturn and its family of icy moons—taking us to astounding worlds where methane rivers run to a methane sea and where jets of ice and gas are blasting material into space from a liquid water ocean that might harbor the ingredients for life.      Cassini revealed in great detail the true wonders of Saturn, a giant world ruled by raging storms and delicate harmonies of gravity. Cassini carried a passenger to the Saturn system, the European Huygens probe—the first human-made object to land on a world in the distant outer solar system.     After 20 years in space — 13 of those years exploring Saturn — Cassini exhausted its fuel supply. And so, to protect moons of Saturn that could have conditions suitable for life, Cassini was sent on a daring final mission that would seal its fate. After a series of nearly two dozen nail-biting dives between the planet and its icy rings, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017, returning science data to the very end.
          Source NASA

     Mr. Porter just posted this picture on the CMSC's Facebook page (be sure to hit the 'like' button. Doterra gives the CMSC $$ for every 'like' the Facebook page gets) 

   This little white truck is currently parked where the starship Cassini soon will be. Above it will be a 40 ft planetarium dome. 

     Construction of the new school and space center continues with a grand opening in the Spring of 2020.  

Mr. Williamson

Divided We Fall Poster Proudly Displayed in the Magellan Control Room

     Thank you Audrey for sending this photo from the Magellan's Control Room. The Magellan's summer space camp story is called "Divided we Fall".  This is the original artwork poster Audrey created for the mission.  Pretty good job I'd say. 

     The Magellan's Set Director sends this summary of "Divided We Fall"
     From the writer of Paradise Lost, Prelude to War, and Against the Tide comes 'Divided We Fall', the USS Magellan's story for the 2019 summer season.      It's after the Borg War. The Federation is in shambles. A recent development in technology has led to a divide of the once mighty Federation. On the brink of war, the Centralist Union of Planets and the Trans-Planetary Economic Alliance are still trying to rebuild from the devastating Borg War. While most of the Centralist fleet is blockading the border between the Alliance and the Pakled Emirates, the Magellan is being dispatched to a nearby solar system directly in the path of a devastating Neutronic Storm to provide relief and assistance in coordination with the Red Cross.           What is the true motivation for having the Magellan that close to a potential war zone? Only you can find out. Join us for one of the most daring, eventful, and exciting stories in the Magellan's recent history. A definite first in regards to Space Center missions with a style and layout  bound to please crews of all ages. This exciting mission explores moral dilemmas and contains aspects of US History along with never before seen Pakled characters. There are even echoes of music history from 19th century France.  Oh la la....seulement le meilleur.     Will history repeat itself and plunge us into a Civil War, or will the crew of the Magellan find a way to diffuse a volatile situation?  Sign up for summer camp now.
          Conner Larsen 

What Does a Programmer from Germany, Thorium, and the Christa McAuliffe Space Center Have in Common?

From the Desk of Mr. Porter
Christa McAuliffe Space Center

     What does a German programmer and a small town simulator based educational program have in common?  Not a whole lot. But we found that we both love creating unique experiences and with Tim Pietrusky's help we have our lighting system connected to our open source simulator software.

     We found Tim while looking for solutions and it has been so great to have his expertise and excitement. He has volunteered a lot of time to help us move our simulators over to the next generation of software and so we are super appreciative.

     So wonderful to see that a community of support for providing these experiences extends far beyond our local borders.

Imagination; faster than light




How you teach penmanship in China. Keep that back straight!