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

Sunday, December 27, 2020

How I Plan to Send Out 2020 Plus This Week's Imaginarium.

Hello Troops,

The Troubadour's worldwide team of reporters are on Christmas vacation so there won't be any Space EdVenture news; however the Imagineers from the Imaginarium Theater were busy all week producing your weekly video treat.  Please enjoy this week's Imaginarium Theater.  

From all of us at The Troubadour, we wish you an upcoming Happy New Year.  Goodbye and good riddance to 2020, a horrible year. Let's ask Fortuna and Fate for a happy 2021 May this new year bring us all peace,health,and prosperity.  

Each of us have our traditions for ringing in the new year. This year will be different for me. At 11:59 P.M. on the 31st I will be on my backyard deck facing west overlooking the valley below paying tribute to the departing 2020 in a very unteacher like fashion that I won't describe in this post :)  Let me just say that the moon and I will be out, shining brightly. At the stroke of midnight I'll face east to usher in 2021 with a toast of sparkling apple cider sipped to the accompaniment of fireworks carpeting the valley below.

Be Good and Let's Look Forward to a Better Year!

Mr. W. 

Imaginarium Theater

This Week's Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience

Imaginarium Theater December 27, 2020 from SpaceCampUtah's Imaginarium on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

It's Christmas Break! Enjoy Today's Imaginarium Theater. More to Come This Week.

 Hello Troops,

My last day of school was Thursday.  I said "Goodbye" to my 75 sixth graders, spruced up the room, stacked the chairs, and set the trash cans outside the door.  Teacher's smiles beamed through the masks as they followed the students out the door with arms full of chocolates, mints, hot chocolate mixes, sugar cookies, and of course the seasonal chocolate oranges - a student favorite for teachers.  

This Sunday has been a nice down day. I finished the Imaginarium Theater and here it is....  Now if you don't mind, I'll head to couch and read a good book I've been wanting to get to for several months. I'll talk to you again this week.

Mr. W.   

Imaginarium Theater

The Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience. 

Imaginarium Theater December 20, 2020 from SpaceCampUtah's Imaginarium on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Mr. Williamson Survives Covid. Takes First Sick Days in 37 Years in Education. He Apologizes to Those Who Lost Their Bets. Dave Daymont Winner of the Most Improved Flight Director - From the Archives: Ten Years Ago this Christmas Season. Imaginarium Theater.

Hello Troops,

     The Covid bug broke through multiple layers of defense and put me down.  I'm grateful I had a fairly mild case compared to so many others.  It was similar to a cold; lots of coughing, a bit of a fever, lost both smell and taste, etc.  My father passed away from Covid on October 30 in Orem so there was some fear when my test came back positive, but you play the hand you are dealt, put on a stiff upper lip, and soldier on.  I want to thank friends and family for their kindnesses during my convalescencs.  There was always plenty to eat and Diet Mt. Dews appeared on my doorstep every afternoon.  What more could someone want?  Covid forced me to take my first sick days in my educational career; that's 38 years!  It would take a worldwide pandemic to force me to stay home. 

     I'm grateful for my gifted teacher aide who took my classes during my away time.  Mrs. Moss is a life saver.  My students sent a few notes wishing me well.  One student wrote, "Mr. Williamson, I hear you have Covid.  Don't Die!"  Typical sixth grader right? He is the type of kid who gets right to the point with the fewest words possible.  

     So, I'm back and will try to keep The Troubadour up to date with news from the many Space EdVenture Centers.  That includes The Imaginarium Theater. I know there aren't many who watch the almost weekly series but I do it for my students. They are my target audience and they do appreciate it.

     And to those who lost their bets on my survival - sorry I'm such a disappointment.  I'll try harder next time  :)  The odds weren't that good anyway, and you know what they say about a fool and his money!  

Mr. Williamson

Ten Years Ago at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010.

Hello Troops,
Three more "Cry from the Dark's" yesterday. The Ferengi character is hard on my voice. You know the one, "You're a lier and a poor one at that!" Yea, now you remember :) Towards the end of the mission the ship flies past a star with companion black hole connected by a swirl of star matter. One boy from Greenwood Elementary said loud enough to hear "That looks like Portugal!"
Jon and I got a kick out of that one. Talk about random. I've since looked at the shot repeatedly and have come to the conclusion that the boy has no clue what Portugal looks like, or where it is on the globe.

It's always satisfying to hear the comments from the kids before, during and after our missions. They really are, for the most part, blown away by the whole thing. I must hear the word "Sick" used a least a dozen or more times a day, along with dozens of other adjectives kids use these days to describe awesomeness.

And on today's menu, missions and more missions. And for dessert, more missions. All in a day's work at the Space Center.

      Mr. Williamson 


Overnight Camp Friday. Off to Walmart

Hello Troops,
     It's nearly 6:30 A.M. and time to get ready for school. Walmart will be my first stop of the day once I get the Battlestar shocked into life and warmed up. I'm not one who enjoys shopping but my Friday A.M. wander through WalMart is tolerable. I know exactly what I need and where its located, thus keeping my time in store to a minimum. I'm even on a first name basis with the ladies at the check out. They see me coming and automatically put in the school district's tax free number without my reminding them. That is what I all customer service!
     The overnight staff look forward to my Friday Walmart safari. They know I'll be bringing back those nice "Everything on Them Rolls" they love so much. You should try them if you haven't already done so. They are delicious.
     Tonight we will host 45 students from Sego Lily Elementary School. They are always great to work with.
     Mr. Williamson


Dave Daymont. Winner of the Most Improved Flight Director Award for 2010

Hello Troops,
     Congratulations Dave Daymont on winning the coveted and less recognized Most Improved Flight Director of the Year Award for 2010.
     Dave is special in so many ways. Lovable, at a distance. Huggable (when smiling) and so approachable (except when he's eating. He has a tendency to think anyone coming too close is planning on taking his food. That brings out a side of Dave we don't like to see at the Space Center).
     Be sure to congratulate Dave the next time you see him. Positive reinforcement is just what the Doctor ordered (literally. I consult with his therapist weekly).

Mr. Williamson 

Imaginarium Theater

The Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience 


Imaginarium Theater December 13, 2020 from SpaceCampUtah's Imaginarium on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Falcon Returns to the Space Center After 15 Years! The Falcon Needs a New Logo. James Porter Reflects on the Space Center's 30th Birthday. Other News from the Space Center. The Imaginarium Theater.

Randy Jepperson and Mark Daymont back in the day working a Falcon mission.  (Left)
Taylor Herring and Spencer Dauwalder, Falcon volunteers during an overnight camp. (Right)

The Falcon Simulator. A Fun Ship but What a Pain to Set Up and Take Down. And a Double Pain in the Neck With its Equipment.

Hello Troops!
     Just recently James Porter announced that the sixth ship in the new Space Center would be named "Falcon". All you old time Space Center staff, volunteers, and campers remember the original Falcon. It took flight the first time on  February 4, 2001 and continued to operated throughout the school year for the Friday night overnight camps. It was also used all summer long for the summer space camps.  It was decommissioned in 2005 when the Phoenix opened.
      I created the Falcon out of need. The demand for our Friday overnight camps and summer space camps was too much for the Voyager, Odyssey, Magellan, and Galileo to handle.  I needed a quick solution that didn't involve construction.  I needed a ship we could set up and take down quickly. With a bit of imagineering we solved the problem using the recently discontinued Mars Rover program we used for one of our summer camps.  Retasking the cabinets and using both of our Starlab inflatable planetarium domes the Falcon took shape and flight. 
      Only a small group of people worked the Falcon during its short life. I decided it was too much of a hassle to set up and take down for weekday private missions. Overnight camps were the Falcon's speciality.  Late in the afternoons on any given Friday you would find a few of us in the school's cafeteria setting up the Falcon for camp.  We'd corrall the Falcon's cabinets into a close circle, connect the computers and audio equipment, stretch the power cables, layout the planetarium Starlab dome, place sleeping pads on top of the cabinets so their sharp edges wouldn't pierce the dome fabric, then inflate the dome and struggle to pull the dome up and over the cabinets.

The Falcon's equipment was kept in a large, wheeled cabinets seen on the right.
The Control Room was outside the dome
     The second dome would be inflated once the Bridge dome was connected and secure. A prayer circle was held in hopes Fortuna wouldn't interfere with our good intentions and the computers would run properly.  
     So often I'd be at my desk in the Briefing Room near the start of the Overnighter and be disturbed by someone from the Falcon coming in to tell me something was wrong with the ship's equipment.  Mr. Schuler, Mrs. Houston, Mr. Daymont, and Josh Babb all could tell many stories about Falcon technical nightmares.  But somehow, thanks to great patience and talent, we'd get through those missions.            
This is the inside of the Falcon. Computers were stored behind the black plastic. The printer was connected to the computer you see in the picture two photos above.

     Besides set up and take down, sound was the biggest problem for the Falcon. The thin fabric dome walls had zero sound insulation so noise from the Galileo was a constant bother.  The Falcon staff also had to keep their discussions to a whisper to keep the Falconites from hearing them scheme and plot against them (as we all do even today in our control rooms).

The Falcon, set up and ready to fly.  One dome was the bridge of the ship. The other dome was used as a gathering point for discussions and scary away missions.

     The Falcon was originally built to be a Mars Rover simulator funded by Novell for one of our Summer EdVenture camps.  The Mars simulation lasted a summer but never really took.  I wasn't happy with it.  In thinking what to do with the equipment I decided to create another simulator. I sent in a work order for the Falcon's cabinets, ordered new Hypercard software for the ship and imagineered the ship inside a dome.  I took the old XCraft simulator from the Space Center's overnight camps in the mid 1990's as my inspiration.  The Falcon would be a souped up XCraft.  The rest is history. 
     The Falcon's success (and the extra money it brought in by increasing our overnight camp numbers) convinced me that a small permanent simulator was needed.  That ship became the Phoenix.  Those who worked the Falcon were supportive of my decision. Some staff didn't support the idea. The Phoenix would occupy the inset wall bunks used by the staff for overnight camps.  They loved their bunks.
     The Falcon flew last in 2005 at the opening of the Phoenix and such ended the era of the quick set up and take down simulators.  
     Imagine my surprise and joy when James made the announcement that he was bringing the name back for one of the new simulators.  He kept it a secret for many months but the cat is out of the bag and we can celebrate the Falcon's return!  Will the X-Craft make a return someday?  Only time will tell.  
     This is the Facebook post James made about the Falcon.

     I think it only fitting that the Falcon's first crew be those who once suffered with the old Falcon: Lorraine Houston, Mark Daymont, Bill Schuler, Josh Babb, Randy Jepperson and the others who patiently dealt with the old Falcon's incessant technical issues. 
     Welcome Back Falcon!

The Falcon Needs a New Logo.  From the Christa McAuliffe Space Center's Facebook Page  

James Porter's Thoughts on the Space Center's 30th Birthday.

Other News from the Christa McAuliffe Space Center

The Imaginarium Theater

The Best Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience 

Imaginarium Theater November 29, 2020 from SpaceCampUtah's Imaginarium on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Thankful Day. A Thanksgiving Greeting to the Space EdVenturing Family.


     When it comes to a perfect representation of a horrible year, 2020 stands out in a crowded room of masterpieces like 1929, 1939, and 1865; and begging not to be overlooked is 1968. You see it over there, breathing asthmatically in a dim corner of the modern wing in the contemporary section. Forgive me for not defending my reasoning for those choices, but because of today's focus on thankfulness, let me redirect your attention back to the subject at hand, 2020. There it sits on its weathered easel beconning our tired eyes to travel down its broad covid brush strokes and through the layers of dark sinister overtones. Is there a silver lining framing those tempestuous clouds?

  2020 has reminded me of one simple fact, there are things I cannot control.  And because I can't control them, those vexing itches that want scratching are best left alone so not to fester.

     I can't control the eventual outcome of our last election so I will leave it to those who can.  What I can control is how I treat my family and friends on both sides of the political spectrum, people whom I am grateful for at this time of year.  I can listen respectfully. I can speak calmly and in the end, we can cordially agree to disagree and then change the subject to those memories that brought us together over the years.  And don't forget the weather and those aches and pains of advanced age.
     I can't control your relationship with God, or whether or not you believe in this creed or that. But I can listen respectfully and remember that we are all in this together, and that my truth today may or may not be yours, but it may be tomorrow, or even the next day, or perhaps never.  We walk our own path through life, learning what we need to learn in our own time. And while your lessons are for you to learn, I can choose to walk some of the way with you, just in case we need each other to navigate a rough patch.

     I can't control the national economy, but I can control my own personal spending and saving.  I can't control the home lives of my students, but I can control how I treat and respect them while they are in my care.  I can't control the government's response to the virus, but I can control how I handle my personal responsibility in the care of my fellow human being.  In the end I can't control how people treat me, but I can control how I treat them. 
     I'm thankful for that simple truth it has taken me decades to learn (putting into practice is an ongoing effort): I'm only truly in control of myself.  I can make MY world a better place by showing kindness and gratitude and do my best to not let those things I cannot control take root in my soul. 

      The silver lining of 2020 are the people who've walked some of this year with me.  Thank you to my family and friends.  Thank you to my co-workers and students.  Sixth graders have a way of keeping you focused on the most basic of life's lessons, 'You treat me with kindness and respect and I'll do the same'.  Thank you to the wonderful people who work and volunteer in the happiest places on earth, the space centers, Dream Flight Adventures, and InfiniD.  The dream continues!
     And so we soldier on.  Let's work to keep the worlds we control kind and happy places.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Thoughts on the Christa McAuliffe Space Center's 30th Anniversary. November 8, 1990 - November 8, 2020. The New Christa McAuliffe Space Center's Dedication Program, PLUS Pictures of the New Ships. Imaginarium Theater.

Hello Troops,

I remember November 8, 1990 very well. I was nervous. I had doubts. I questioned whether I knew what I was doing and I knew there were others who thought the same.  It was a risky endeavour, something no teacher in the Alpine District had done before - add an addition to a school and start a entirely new district wide program. 

Honor's Night. Look at all those earning their one year volunteering pin

The vision of creating a 'Space Center' started with my 6th grade Young Astronaut Club and a 1986 Young Astronauts conference trip to Japan. During that convention I met the director of the Kino Learning Center in Tucson Arizona. Her school had a rather large space shuttle simulator in the school's library used for simulated space missions. If she could do it then so could I. The dream was born.  I envisioned our Young Astronauts poster board classroom starship simulator (the USS Pegasus) could have a permanent home of its own in the classroom where today's Odyssey and Phoenix sit.  The dream expanded from a small simulator to the Voyager addition to the school and the CMSC as it is today.

James Porter passed off as an Odyssey Flight Director by Dave Wall

So many people were drawn into the project. Special gratitude is given to Stan Harward, Central's principal at the time, and Dr. Luana Searle, Asst Superintendent over elementary schools. Money was raised and many hours of volunteer manpower were given. This new program had to succeed. Failure wasn't an option. I didn't sleep well those first years. My health suffered. My poor heart never completely recovered. The anxiety attacks, I'm happy to say, lasted three years and ended.

A great group of young Blue Shirt Rangers

I originally envisioned the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center to be a science lab on board a futuristic spaceship but that idea never took hold for a multiple reasons.  I opened the Space Center by experimenting with a scientific mission to Mars. There are people who remember that first school mission. We flew at warp speed using HyperCard controls I programmed. Once there we used a Mars laser disc for special effects. We flew around the planet learning about its climate and features. I stood on the bridge next to the Tactical screen. My 6th grade staff (2 kids) sat in the control room listening and waiting for clues on when to play and pause the laser disc player and VCR. How primitive it was compared to what we do now.

Tanner Edwards with the Galileo

I felt something was missing after we ran a week or two of the Mars mission field trips . The students showed little excitement. They sat at the computers listening to me. There was very little work for them to do. My Hypercard controls lack depth and purpose. I was in command giving the captain orders on where to go and what to do. The presentation approach with a science only curriculum wasn't working.

A few of the teen staff

I thought back to my days in the classroom with the overhead projector, boom box, and paper controls. Then the idea came – do what you've proven successful - introduce some drama. Using two of the school's VCR's and my Star Trek movie collection, I edited a new ending to the Mars expedition. The mission ended with a Romulan warbird showing up orbiting Mars. It approached in a threatening way, fired, then warped away. It was a crazy idea but crazy ideas are the lifeblood of the Center. 

Another Honor's Night in the Magellan

The idea of adding the Romulan scene at the end of the mission worked. The kids got excited to see the Romulan ship. The little battle thrown into the end of the Mars mission was successful. It convinced me that my original idea of taking a class on an EdVenture into space would work with the general public like it did with my captive 6th grade class.

Dustin Robinson and Megan Warner in the Voyager Control Room

I sat down and wrote another mission called "Epsilon". It was a story of a planet in the Klingon Neutral Zone. Half the planet was under Federation control and the other was under Klingon control. The treaty, allowing joint control of the planet, was up for renegotiation. The planet would be awarded to the government which demonstrated it could best care for the planet's population.

The Overnight Camp Program. 1990-2012

The story had the Voyager entering the Neutral Zone bringing a new kind of wheat to the planet. This new wheat was genetically engineered to grow well in the planet's harsh climate. The Voyager had a few close calls on the way to the planet and a few others while in orbit. At the end of the mission our classes left the Voyager so excited. I knew I had found the formula; and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now here we are 29 years later. The one ship is now a fleet of 13 located at the CMSC, Renaissance Academy, Lakeview Academy, Canyon Grove Academy, and Telos U. The CMSEC inspired spin off companies like Dream Flight Adventures and IndiniD with simulators in several other states and outside the country.  Our stories are more complicated. Our simulators are more sophisticated. I'm getting older and gray but the magic is still there. 

Randy Jepperson and Mark Daymont with the Falcon.

Someone once asked me If I would ever truly retire. I tried once in 2013. I'd done my 30 years for God and District at Central Elementary and the Space Center; I needed a rest. My rest lasted a grand total of three months. Renaissance Academy in Lehi wanted a starship simulator of their own and came calling.  The offer of building a new Voyager along with getting to go back into a 6th grade classroom to end my educational career sealed the deal. Retirement could wait. There was magic to perform. 

The Crew of the Voyager

At 30 years it is easy to sit back and take a journey down memory lane of the many good times we've all had at the Space Center. During my time as director I'd often wait to go home until the staff and volunteers were gone and the ships were empty. I'd walk onto the Voyager's Bridge and sit in the Captain's chair under the dim lights and listen to the voices of 300,000 children swirling around the room locked in the very walls of the ship. I look over at the left wing and see the original staff training crews by hand before the days of training tapes and mp3 players. I see Jacob Bartlett over in the corner asleep when he should be doing his job as a bridge staff. I hear Russell Smith downstairs playing the blind doctor. I watch a much younger Mr. Schuler coming up the stairs in full Star Trek uniform. A young first officer voice shouts, "Admiral on the Bridge!" . I still see that silly mask popping up over the loft to frighten Security. I see our many young volunteers growing up in that simulator from elementary school to junior high to senior high and then jumping ship into life. I hear the screams, the laughing, and the quiet that came from failure like when Blossom, the beloved Paklid captain, died in a fiery crash into a planet so many years ago. They are good memories. 

James Porter entering the ranks of the Green Shirt Adult Staff

Sixteen years ago I wrote..
Perhaps some day video game technology will become so evolved that children will do one of our missions at home connected to some kind of virtual reality machine. The computer will play my part, telling the story and reacting to the kid's decisions. The class will sit with goggles covering their eyes showing them the bridge of some futuristic ship. Gloves will give them the feel of working the controls. Perhaps the Voyager will still be around when that day comes. It may be a museum this future generation will visit with their grandparents. As they tour the simulator the sounds of our voices and the blaring music with red alerts will mix with their grandparents' stories of when they flew the original Voyager, Odyssey, Magellan, Phoenix, and Galileo long ago to far away places.
Thank you everyone for Thirty Years. Thank you volunteers for the hours of time you give these programs each month. Thank you to the staff of all the space centers for always going above and beyond the call of duty. We are all involved in creating lasting memories that will stay with our students forever.

With Warmest Regards,
Mr. Williamson

The New Christa McAuliffe Space Center Opens Almost 30 Years to the Day of the Center's First Grand Opening


     Yesterday several dignitaries gathered with the Space Center staff to officially open the Christa McAuliffe Space Center's new home.  The event was held in the Space Center's planetarium.  Tours of the planetarium and six simulators were given to the invited guests before the dedication program.  I was on hand wearing three hats:  1) As a financial donor to the new Center and 2) As a member of the Space Center's staff and 3) As the founder of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center all those 30 years ago. 

      I entered the new Center and made a beeline straight to the lower deck to see the marvels new simulators docked at Starbase Williamson.  They are beautiful.  What a facility!  This new Space Center is the diamond Jewel in the Alpine District's crown. 

     A special thank you to Rob Smith and Vicki Carter from the District Office for spearheading the fund raising for the new Center.  And of course a very hardy "Well Done!" to James Porter, CMSC Director and Ryan Wells, Central School's Principal for the work they did to make this a truly one of a kind facility in the entire world.  Please enjoy these few photos of the event.

Alpine School District Superintendent Sam Jarvis at the dedication

Asst. Superintendent Rob Smith Spearheaded the Fundraising

And Now, the Simulators

The Magellan
The Magellan

The Falcon

The Falcon

The Cassini Hallway

The Cassini Bridge

The Hallway to the Phoenix

The Phoenix Bridge
The Phoenix Bridge

The Friendly Staff Welcoming Guests to the Simulators at Starbase Williamson

The Odyssey

The Odyssey

The Odyssey

The Galileo

The Starbase Lobby

The Cool Lava Floor Tiles

Entry Hallway from the school

The computer server racks

Remember, next Saturday is the public open house.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Mr. Williamson

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Videos from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience.  (Sorry Folks, today's video is a repeat from 4 years ago.  I just didn't have time to create a new one).