Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school. Director@SpaceCampUtah.org

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Isaac Ostler Graduates from UVU's Firefighter's Academy. The Starship Simulator in Valencia, Venezuela Highlighted in the International Educator. Read the Article. From the Archives: Summer 2003 with Pictures. Imaginarium Theater and Memes

Isaac at the Graduation
     Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending Isaac Ostler's graduation from the Utah Valley University's Firefighter Recruit Candidate Academy.  Isaac is now an official Utah County Firefighter.  Well done young man!
     Isaac is one of those one in a million kids who walks into the Space Center as a young whipper snapper wanting to change the world.  You never know who they are at first, but they show themselves as the months and years pass.  

Isaac as a Young Whipper Snapper way back in the day


     The first time I met Isaac way back in January 2012?  Even before Isaac became a volunteer he offered me a bribe to go easy on his crew.  The story of his graft and cunning was posted on The Troubadour on January 29, 2012.  I decided to repost it today as an act of full disclosure and to highlight this outstanding gentleman. 

Young Camper Bribes Mr. Williamson
     And finally a confession which could land me in a spot of trouble. Last Thursday a young man named Isaac arrived with friends to attend the Phoenix's Open Mission, flight directed by none other than the Space Center's very own Dave Daymont.     Isaac walked up to me while I was seated at my desk and slipped me this note. Attached to the note was real American money. Yes, I'm talking about real American money - none of that phony Canadian stuff. On the note he'd written that he was a regular reader of The Troubadour and had read how easy it was to bribe me with a Diet Mt. Dew. The note went on to say that the cash was to be used for a Diet Dew.     I say this could land me in a spot of trouble because of my position as an employee of the Alpine School District - a government organization. We don't take kindly to the bribing of government officials in this republic of ours, so I hesitated to accept the card and money. But in the end I confess to accepting the "gift". How could I turn down such a heartfelt offer from a young Space Center fan. I only hope the judge feels the same way if any of you turn me in to the authorities.     Now let me emphatically repeat that giving gifts to government officials is frowned upon in our American culture. However, until our elected leaders in Salt Lake and Washington decide not to accept all the freebies showered on them by lobbyists and political action committees, I'll feel perfectly fine accepting the occasion soda from a well wisher wanting to grease the palm of someone who could make or break his simulator mission :)     Thanks Isaac. The Diet Dew was delicious and thank you for being a regular reader.
Mr. Williamson

     Isaac joined the Space Center's volunteering club shortly after his mission.  He rose through the ranks because of his can do attitude and his willingness to work and work hard.  He looked for ways he could help, and if he didn't know how to help he learned the required skill either from someone else or became self taught.  
     Isaac saw that the Space Center's greatest need was programming. He joined the programming guild and worked alongside some of the best like Matt Long.  He programmed his own set of starship controls which were used on the new Voyager at the Space Academy. 

 
     Isaac focused on the Magellan and worked under Jon Parker for quite awhile while helping Mr. Porter with the Space Center's technology needs. Thankfully Isaac shifted his focus to the new Voyager at the Renaissance Space Academy because he saw a need - MY need.  I needed him to get the Academy's program off to a great start - and he did.   

Isaac wearing his Programming Guild Baby Blues at work in the new Voyager's Control Room at the
Renaissance Space Academy


      Isaac became the simulator half of Renaissance Academy's Young Astronaut Program.  He ran the Voyager as a flight director, technical director, staff trainer, custodian, repairman, and bottle washer.  
I ran the classroom side of the program. Together we guided nearly 200 young astronauts ages 8 to 14 on voyages deep into the galaxy.  We were pioneering a new way of using experiential simulators to benefit a school wide audience.  Without Isaac's expertise and dedication our program would not be the success it is today.  The Space Academy is lucky to have Isaac as a friend and cohort.  
     Sadly, as our younglings grow up, life calls and they must answer.  Life called on Isaac.
He pursued his interest in medicine and become an EMT. He got a job working for Gold Cross Ambulance in Salt Lake City.  All the while he continued honing his programming skills.  He has enrolled in UVU and now has graduated from the firefighter's academy.  His education is not finished. He has many dreams and ambitions and watch out because what Isaac wants, Isaac usually gets by keeping his shoulder to the wheel.  
     Bracken Funk has since stepped in to fill Isaac's shoes at the Space Academy giving Isaac the time to accomplish his goals.  Thankfully Isaac still comes by the Academy when he can to lend a helping hand or just catch up on all the latest gossip. 
     Saying I'm proud of what Isaac has accomplished is an understatement.  Isaac is an amazing young man who will make a name for himself.  Thank you Isaac for everything you've done for the program and for me personally. 

Isaac's Graduation Video Shown at the Graduation Ceremony.  UVU's Dean Wondered Why Isaac Wasn't Hollywood Bound! 


To Infinity and Beyond: An Infinity Learning 

Space in Valencia, Venezuela

By Todd Lichtenwalter

10/17/2019


“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
—Albert Einstein

Some years ago, my director Stephen Sibley and I were discussing how our school, Colegio Internacional de Carabobo, might replace the excellent yearly field trips to Hato Pinero and Morrocoy that we were no longer able to offer students because of the increased insecurity within Venezuela. I had recently read the book From Campfires to Holodecks by David Thornburgh, which reaffirmed and expanded ideas I had in mind for some years for creating an adventure learning space.

From a discussion about the book, we got the ball rolling with the idea to create Star Trek-themed team project-based learning (PBL) adventures focused on promoting interdisciplinary collaboration among teachers and the practice of 21st-Century Learning Skills and Systems Thinking by the students.

Infinity learning spaces

An Infinity Learning Space (ILS) is a place of immersion where applied learning is practiced in numerous ways. Flexible in architecture and furnishings (e.g., all furniture has wheels), it serves as an unlimited canvas upon which any pedagogy, curriculum, or technology can be practiced throughout the year because it is not defined by the limits of any one subject matter.

Rather, it is a space where teachers are encouraged to collaborate in designing interdisciplinary lessons in which students practice any number of subjects, a place that allows what has traditionally been cordoned off into separate spaces and curriculums to be interwoven.

The makerspace, computer lab, theater, and science lab are now woven together by narrative-driven challenges and/or explorations. Here, students assume roles in cross-functional teams to solve real-world problems or their parallels, through simulations in analog, digital, and virtual domains.

Cosmos, galaxies, and star systems

The ILS framework (Fig.1) begins with the Cosmos canvas, comprised of Galaxies. A Galaxy is a collection of Systems used in the programming of an ILS. Systems are the pedagogies and content areas that shape the overall structure of a Galaxy. A single ILS can use more than one Galaxy over the course of a year(s), and schools can share Galaxy ideas, including lessons, curriculum, and innovations. Galaxies can also share common systems. For example, a Galaxy emphasizing music, art, and digital design and another emphasizing science and social studies may have in common the practices of 21st-Century Learning Skills and Applied Technology.

Figure 1 (above) represents the first Galaxy our school has designed. It rests upon three areas of cognition that are intertwined when applied in the real world: Problem Solving, Systems Thinking, and 21st-Century Skills.

Immersion-based learning is the framework in which students apply and improve their abilities and understandings in these three areas by putting students into the cognitive space of facing real-world-type challenges or their parallels. Games and Simulations are our Spiral Arm mediums, and Narrative is the foundational base upon which the System rotates.

At our ILS, learning experiences include a variety of simulations, including analog board games (e.g, the World Peace Game), digital games (e.g., Minecraft), simulators (e.g., Dream Flight Adventures and Star Trek Bridge Crew VR), and Virtual Reality (Steam, Viveport, and Oculus Store apps). In many of these experiences, students assume the role of an avatar in the context of narrative-driven missions, allowing them to experience what it is like to apply these areas of thinking in a meaningful and purposeful way as they practice curriculum from their traditional subjects.

One of the main goals of our program is for students to begin forming mental strategies for understanding systems, solving problems, and being able to communicate and collaborate with others to accomplish project goals, skills that are in high demand in the modern workplace and are attributes of effective managers and leaders.

Browse the job listings on LinkedIn and you will see a large number of job descriptions seeking managers and other leaders who have Systems Thinking and 21st-Century Skills. An ILS is perhaps one of the best settings in which students can develop such skills because the premise is largely role playing based on solving real-world problems while working in teams.
Students are afforded the opportunity to apply the 4 C’s, demonstrate leadership, practice emotional intelligence and self-control, be flexible and compromise, innovate solution and reiterate, manage information, reason, and use technology effectively.

Education immersion center missions

Spaceship simulators in schools have a long history and are an excellent choice for an ILS because they encapsulate an integrated approach to learning. The birthplace of spaceship simulators dates back to 1983 with the grandfather of spaceship sims, Victor Williamson of Utah in the U.S.

Over the years, 66 spaceship simulators, including our own, can trace their roots back to Mr. Williamson, who understood the value of 21st-Century Skills long before the term was coined.
At our ILS, class sections from Grades 3–12 attend three- to four-day, daylong “missions,” once per semester. Students appear dressed in costume. A typical mission consists in part of a Dream Flight Adventures simulator exercise that includes stops at various planets for Minecraft teamwork challenges and a myriad of integrated activities designed by the students’ classroom teachers relating to each crew position’s specific duties aboard the ship.

Tasks include Leggo and Sphero robot challenges, Strawbees to build equipment, 3D printers to replicate broken ship parts, Snap Circuit kits for repairing various circuits aboard the ship, biology experiments to fight off an infection that is spreading, doctor medical checkups, and fitness challenges.

They involve writing diplomatic documents to bring peace between factions, writing and performing music to unite planets through matrimony, and performing math calculations to determine the impact force of asteroids on the ship’s hull in an asteroid field.

Additional challenges include cross-functional interdependent step-wise crew tasks to defeat space pirates, solving BreakoutEdu boxes to gain access to critical documents locked inside, group presentations to persuade a planet to consider a new form of government, documentary filmmaking for the ship’s log, programming robots to sweep the bridge for a saboteur bomb, and more.

Virtual reality

The room contains a 1:1 set up of HTC Vive HMDs. Research has shown that virtual reality (VR) is effective with learners. University of Maryland researchers found that information presented in VR makes for more effective retention and recall than traditional desktop displays (Krokos et. al. 2018). According to the Hypothetical Model of Immersive Cognition (HMIC), as researched by Landendorf (2018), “as immersive virtual reality (IVR) stimuli are presented to the brain, the sensory register filters the stimuli, creates a sense of presence, and immediately activates long-term memory, bypassing working memory, resulting in streamlining the cognitive pathway.”

A wide range of apps are applicable to ILS open-ended adventures, class subjects, and skills training. For example, we use the app Star Trek Bridge Crew VR in which students work in teams of four in the roles of engineer, tactical, helm, and captain as they engage in a range of 21st-Century Skills, including interdependence, effective use of communication, innovation, critical reflection, compromise, shared responsibility, systems thinking, strategic decision making, challenge management, effective reasoning, and information processing.

The mission guides and self-assessment tools we developed for this game are now being used in the U.S. Air Force Academy in the Leadership Department for Distance Learning at Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base. The military has found such real-world simulations of teamwork and leadership effective tools for training pilots.

Dream flight adventures

Our other spaceship simulator involves live action. CEO and creator of Dream Flight Adventures (DFA) Gary Gardiner states, “Dream Flight Adventures provides educational experiences that blend topics from all disciplines and emphasize real-world connections. Each mission in the library includes its own unique curriculum aligned to the Common Core and state standards, including STEM, history, literature and the humanities, and thought-provoking social or ethical issues.”

Like a Magic School Bus adventure, students can shrink down and travel through the human body, go to the sea floor, travel back in time and into the future, enter a volcano, and voyage through outer space to visit planets, asteroids, comets, and stars as they are called upon to solve problems throughout the galaxy.

It is here that we integrate Minecraft challenges. Minecraft, at its core, is simulated modeling and engineering, but you may be familiar with its many other uses across several subjects including chemistry, math, literature, history, music, and computer programming.

For example, students may fly their spaceship in DFA to a planet that is in need of help. Upon arrival, they switch to Minecraft and students work in teams or as a group to accomplish tasks such as building according to blueprint specifications while staying within budget, constructing aqueduct systems and mechanical devices for villagers, or exploring a river system facing challenges along the way. The possibilities are quite endless.

The World Peace Game

This year we introduced a new star into our Galaxy: The World Peace Game by John Hunter. If you are not yet familiar with this outstanding geopolitical simulation, the game is replete with 21st -Century Skills and Systems Thinking as students work to solve 50 interlocking world problems while at the same time raising the country budget of all nations.

Students assume the roles for four country teams (made up of a Prime Minister, Secretary of State, Minister of Defense, Minister of Trade, and Chief Financial Officer), alongside representatives from the United Nations, World Bank, and World Court and some arms dealers. The game is played on a 4m x 4m x 4-layer plexi-glass game board that includes undersea, terrain, sky, and outer space layers containing several hundred game pieces.

The game design is complex and the problems knotty, requiring deep thinking, analysis, and creative solution finding. There are coup attempts, war, inventions, trade negotiations, alliances, diplomatic intrigue, saboteurs, ethical quandaries, acts of great humanitarian compassion, and the birth of leaders. Students learn as much about the difficulty of running a country and geopolitics as they do about their own character and inner selves. The game itself is a mirror, demanding the introspection necessary for the creation of world peace. The systems thinking and interpersonal self-discovery the game affords makes it one of the most important games for education there is today.

To the future and beyond

Infinity Learning Spaces are collaborative and student-centered, posing challenges in context as students live their curriculum. They are designed as flexible places within the school—both as a concept and a physical construct—able to absorb and integrate the future with ease (full holographic technology is on the horizon).

Equally important, ILSs are highly engaging, fun, full of memorable experiences for students, and offer a great way to get students excited about coming to school and generating school pride. International schools are incubators of best practices and innovation, while at the same time, we can face some distinct challenges within our host countries.

The Education Immersion Center at Colegio Internacional de Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela is another feather in the cap of the international schools community, demonstrating how our adversities are turned into wonders.

Todd Lichtenwalter is Education Immersion Center Instructor and Technology Mentor at Colegio Internacional de Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela.

www.ciceducationimmersioncenter.com


https://www.tieonline.com/article/2615/to-infinity-and-beyond-an-infinity-learning-space-in-valencia-venezuela

From the Archives.  The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center's YahooGroup.


The staff doctor and Voyager security in the Voyager's Crew Quarter


 July 11, 2003
Brady Young Comments on Scary Missions and Shadows

Hello Everyone,
It's me Brady and I thought I would voice my opinion on this topic. I would have to agree with both Megan and Emily P. We calm them down with a nice greeting from their best friend Mr. Ice Cream. When you give a kid ice cream it seams like he/she forgets everything. We do in fact still scare kids out of their pants. It's just kids these days don't like to admit things especially being scared by some scifi creature that they know isn't real. I think they are more afraid of being embarrassed of being scared and getting criticized by their friends. 


Anyway, just few weeks ago a girl on the voyager was so scared she couldn't move.
Luckily Megan was bridge (I was Doctor) because she had to shake her a few times to come back to reality and comforted her. This summer's mission has a scary creature in it, but not as bad as the shadows. This creature has a robot that flashes you with radiation
every time is comes up instead of touching you. It's after the computers and not you.



The Odyssey back sections in 2002

The best scary mission that I have ever known is Shadows. That mission is the scariest because you have no idea what could happen next. The reason why I think this mission is so scary is because of the creature's costume and Mr. Williamson's great scary music library and the atmosphere he creates. He turns all the lights off. Has the scariest music going
in the background and this bloody skeleton coming after EACH kid. Now if you know something is coming after you and only you but you don't know when it is going to come after you would be extremely scared.


The Yurie (I hope I spelled that right) in the Magellan is also a great scary creature because it is so big!! This thing is about 9 feet tall with a Tyrannosaurus Rex looking mask on chasing you through the halls in pitch black with a strobe light flashing in your face is also quite
scary.

I think I have said enough about this.

Brady Young



The Voyager Control Room. 2002. Stephen Porter running 2FX.
The creature and one scared camper.

July 11, 2003
Shane Comments on Scary Missions and Shadows

My comments on the scare situation.

When I did Shadows, I couldn't sleep for a week. I kept remembering his long cloak, and his skeleton hands. When I worked it as doctor, I was just as scared. The staff members have to show is when their scared, then it makes the campers think it might be real. They will think they really did beam aboard the USS Voyager. they will think The Shadow would really harm them. If the staff members act just like it routine, they'll figure It's all fake, ,and that ruins the magic.

That's all,
Shane Out



Randy Jepperson in the Magellan

July 13, 2003
The Camper Survey After the Month's First 48 Hour Camp

Hello Troops:
Here are the results from the student survey taken by the campers at the end of 48 Hour Camp 1.

The First question is how they would grade the mission stories over all. Here are their choices:

A = 1
B = 2
C = 3
D = 4
F = 5

Here are the results. Remember, a 1 is a perfect score in both categories.

Voyager story's quality score: 1.07 (Last camp's score: 1.25)
Voyager story's mental challenge: 1.14 (Last camp's score: 1.25)

Galileo story's quality score: 1.10 (Last camp's score: 1.10)
Galileo story's mental challenge: 1.80 (Last camp's score: 2.00)

Magellan story's quality score: 1.62 (Last camp's score: 2.00)
Magellan story's mental challenge average: 1.85 (Last camp's score: 1.89)

Odyssey story's quality score: 1.30 (Last camp's score: 1.89)
Odyssey story's mental challenge average: 1.75 (Last camp's score: 1.20)

Falcon story's quality score: 1.68 (Last camp's score: 1.27)
Falcon story's mental challenge average: 1.80 (Last camp's score: 2.50)




Josh Webb getting the Voyager Bridge cleaned up after an Overnight Camp
2002

The next question: Do you want to come to another camp?

100% said Yes, compared to 95% last week.
0% said Maybe, compared to 5% last week.
0% said no, compared to 0% last week.

The Final Question we track is this: We believe it is possible to have fun and learn at the same time. On our camps we want to teach basic science in the classroom, and in the simulators teach thinking, problem solving, computer skills, role-playing, and teamwork. Did we reach our goals? Did you learn anything during the camp in those areas?

The student answers are as follows:

Absolutely Yes: 75% of our campers circled this (Last camp's score was 71%)

Yes: 25% of our campers circled this. (Last camp's score was 24%)

Maybe: 0% of our campers circled this. (Last camp's score was 5%)

Not Very Much: 0% of our campers circled this. (Last camp's score was 0%)

No: 0% of our campers circled this. (Last camp's score was 0%)

I'm happy to see improvement from the last Day Camp. We got a 100% on the camper return question. That is really good considering we had a few really young campers that were away from home for five days and were scared several times during our missions.

Rest Troops because we have three very busy weeks ahead of us. Each week has several private missions in addition to one overnighter and one extended camp each.

Take Care Troops and enjoy this little break.



Josh Webb and Scott Slaugh in the Voyager Control Room. 2002

The Space Center Journal.  A Small 48 Hour Overnight Camp. We Had to Go From 62 Campers to 42 Due To School Construction.
July 14, 2003

Hello Troops,
We completed our first 48 Hour Camp on Saturday. It was a gentle camp. You're probably wondering why I choose the word `gentle' as an adjective foa camp. I choose the word because of the camp had a grand total of 28 campers!

Astrocamp, our sister center in Ogden, is having troubles filling their camps. This surprises me. In years past our joint camps were always the first to fill. If these camps aren't filling then you know the rest of their camps must be be low capacity.



Ah, the Voyager's Brig with the glow in the dark carpeted walls.

Their director asked Mr. Daymont if our camps were full. Of course they're full but we must remember that due to construction I decided to reduce the number of campers to 42 instead of our usual 62. I knew that construction would bring the closure of classrooms and a loss of sleeping rooms. There was no other choice I had to reduce our numbers. Would we have filled oucamps if we still took 62? I don't know the answer to that. People are out of
work in Utah. When a family suffers a loss of income luxuries are trimmed from the budget first. Sending your child to camp is a luxury. We may not have filled our camps. I guess we'll never know.

Twenty-eight campers, what a relaxed number for a camp. I closed one or two simulators each of the four rotations. It was a loss of income to the Center and to the paid staff but I didn't hear anyone complaining about that.



The Odyssey's Entrance in 2002

The campers were good. They enjoyed being at the Center and enjoyed learning about space. They were good at Clark Planetarium and at the pool. They gave us better reviews than the last Day Camp. We even had several of the younger campers request to leave the simulators due to the intense nature of some of the missions. Although we don't like to scare our camperout of the ships it was still reassuring to see that we still had the ability to tell a
really scary tale.

We are now preparing for the busiest week of the summer. This week brings an overnight camp, several private missions, and a 48 Hour Camp. Next week is a bit better with a Day Camp and one overnighter. The Day Camps allow us to go home every afternoon. The last week of the season brings an overnight mission and a 40 Hour Camp.



Young volunteer pounding on the Odyssey's exterior walls to scare the campers

We are having a great summer in spite of the construction. The Falcon is getting good reviews. The Magellan is holding its own despite the loss of  the Situation Room and the hallway. All simulators are doing very well without the landing parties that the students love more than anything in our simulations. I'm very proud of our fantastic staff and their attitude of let's get the job done right!'.

Pioneers, Voyagers, and Rangers you are all doing an awesome job. We are what we are because of you.



Admiral Bill Schuler making ready to enter the Voyager from the stage.

Isn't this heat terrible? I hate this time of year with the daily temperatures hitting the century mark. I search the weather reports daily for any indication of rain or clouds any relief from the heat. Relief is nowhere in site. This isn't good for the poor Voyager. Its air conditioner is about to give up the ghost. On these hot afternoons it struggles to keep the interior temperature to the low 80's even though I have it set to 72. Aw well, we are nearing
September and cooler temperatures. We'll make it.

All the Best,
Mr. Williamson


Imaginarium Theater
The Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentile Audience





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