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

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Goodbye to Today's 3rd Central Elementary School. Hello to the 4th Central Elementary School. A Place to Go to Read the School's Rich History. Casey's Goodbye to the Voyager. Imaginarium Theater

This is Central Elementary School and the Original Space Center's Last Week
     In all our sadness at seeing the end and demolition of the original Space Center, let's not forget to say a fond farewell to the school which housed the program for all these years.  The Central Elementary School we know has one more week of life before it is closed and demolition begins.  The new Central Elementary School and Christa McAuliffe Space Center is going up right behind the current building.  It will open in August.  

     The current Central School is actually the third building. The first Central School was built in 1893 and sat directly north of the current school.  That building was sold to the LDS Church when the second Central Elementary School was built. The second school was a three story building. The current and third Central School was built in 1956.  

     I started teaching at Central in 1983.  I taught 6th grade directly opposite the gym from 1983 to 1990 and directed the Space Center from 1990 to 2013.  That's a whopping 30 years spent in one building.  

My first 6th Grade class. Last day of school photo. May 1984.
From my Facebook Album: My 30 Years at Central

Not only did I work in the building, I also slept in the building spending over 1000 nights sleeping on the floor or on a pad or a cot.  

I had to be there for every overnight and summer camp. I know every nook and corner of that building. I recognize every pop and groan from its old boiler and radiators.  It was my home away from home.  I'll miss that old school and its distinctive smells.


The Legacy and History of Central Elementary School Documented in My "Central School Memories" Facebook Page.  

     If Central Elementary School has a special place in your heart (all you old Space Center volunteers, staff, and patrons) "Like" my Central School Memories Facebook page.
I'm digitizing the school's many history books from 1939 up to the present in a fun and readable way.  A school as old as Central has a rich history. It is also fun to see how education has changed over the decades.  For instance, in the 1960's Central's PTA strongly suggested in letters home that mothers NOT come to the school in slacks or have their hair in curlers.  Come join us at Central School Memories on Facebook.


Casey Voeks Bids a Fond Farewell to the First Starship Voyager

Do you have a fond memory of these soon to be gone ships? Please send it to me for inclusion in future Troubadour Posts.



From the Christa McAuliffe Space Center
A Description of Some of the New Technology Going into the New Simulators

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Starship Galileo Departs the Space Center for a new Home at American Heritage School. James Porter, Director of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center, Recognized by the Alpine District. The Galileo's Birthday. A Last Video Walk Through of the Space Center Before Demolition. Imaginarium Theater.

     The Galileo will be the only surviving ship of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center fleet.  While the other simulators will be demolished by the wrecking ball, the Galileo will dock at American Heritage School in American Fork.  It will be one of two simulators in the new American Heritage Space Center (AHSC) under the direction of Alex Debirk.  Alex is a long time Space Center and Renaissance Space Academy volunteer and employee.  Alex's daytime job is high school physics teacher at American Heritage.  The upcoming AHSC will be his other full time job.  
     I'm happy that one of the six simulators will transition into this next generation of simulators.  May the Galileo have many many more light years to come with thousands of happy crewmembers in its new home.  

James Porter, Director of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center, Recognized with the Alpine District Shine Award.

Congratulations James! 
     He deserves it and much more. Imagine the time and effort James has had to put into creating a new Space Center.  What's ahead for James?  With the closing of Utah's schools for the rest of the school year, James has two weeks to strip the current Space Center of its reusable equipment before demolition begins on the current Central Elementary School. A lot of hard work tinged with sadness.  James, like so many of you, grew up in those simulators. 

The Void vs the Space Center. 
Another in the Series of the Space Center vs Other Places

By Alex Anderson
Space Center Old Timer, Programmer, Creator of Thorium, and All Around Great Guy

Alex and Crystal Anderson

     Crystal and I went to the Void about 6 months ago. It was really incredible. For those who don’t know, it’s a live-action VR experience. It has really good hand tracking and you can walk around plywood sets and it actually moves you in the VR world. After signing waivers, we were ushered into a room where a 5 minute video explained the setting (we did the Avenger’s experience and would be testing new Iron Man suits). A staff member brought us and two other participants to put on backpacks with computers and VR headsets. Then we started our experience.

It was pretty fun. We got to shoot robots with our laser hands; we got to see real life Avengers. And we kinda felt like we made a difference. But the whole thing was on rails. We had to move from place to place and didn’t even have the illusion of choice. If we took a wrong step, the invisible staff member would gently guide us back on track. Even if we didn’t shoot down any of the bad guys, we still would have won. There was no consequence, no investment, no emotional connection.

While some of this might sound familiar to those who run day flights (who hasn’t pushed a crew to activate their engines so they can escape at just the right moment?) I feel the Void was missing an important aspect of what the Space Centers offer — a real story with real consequences requiring real investment. We don’t just expect people to sit back and enjoy the show — go to a movie for that. We don’t intend crews to just run around and shoot each other — that what laser tag is for. 

No, we expect, even demand, that crews get into character and connect with the story. We want them to feel invested in what is going on and what they are doing. We want each of them to have a moment to shine, to feel like they made a real difference in the mission, that they were a crucial part of the team. I didn’t feel any of that in the Void.

When I tell people about the Space Center, they typically raise an eyebrow and say, “That sounds… interesting.” But when they actually come and experience what we have to offer, it’s light a light turns on inside their brain. “Oh, I get it now.” The experience really does stick with them, for the reasons Mr. Williamson mentioned in his post about Disneyland vs the Space Center. “Our rides continue well beyond the time spent in the ships. The mission residue continues for years to come as stories pass from person to person on the semi-shared experience.”

Stay healthy; stay safe. Remember, I'm pullin' for ya! We're all in this together!

Celebrating the Galileo. The Only Ship to Survive
By David Kyle Herring

     Today is the Galileo's Birthday. When I was 16 years old I persuaded the Provo School District Superintendent to give me $10,000 and I raised another $5,000 in donations to build my first simulator, later named the Galileo. My dad helped me start construction in my Grandmother's detached garage with plans I had personally drafted. The simulator was opened in December 1997 at Sunset View Elementary and purchased by the Space Center in December 1998. 
     From January 1999 to April 15, the Principle of Central Elementary, Daniel K Adams and I, added several of the exterior features and attached control room. I wrote the first flight of the Galileo 30 minutes before its telling. I had no time to test anything, let alone write and prepare the first mission. I ran into the Voyagers Control Room and grabbed video tapes for visuals and started an epic 10 plus years as a Flight Director and more at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.
     Thank you Victor Williamson for mentoring, teaching, trusting and training this crazy kid to do some incredible things.

James Porter Takes You on a Last Walk Through the Christa McAuliffe Space Center Before Demolition.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Our Simulators, Better than Disneyland? A Few Thoughts on Why the Answer is Yes. Imaginarium Theater. Imaginarium Memes.

The Starship Voyager at Renaissance Space Academy, Lehi, Utah

 Hello Troops,
     Take a minute from your battle with boredom during this Corona virus lockdown and shelter in place order and let me share a thought.

The Starship Voyager: Renaissance Space Academy

     Many times throughout the years we've heard many children say, "That was better than Disneyland!" when they leave one of our simulators. Years ago I'd hear that and wonder how it could possibly be that one of our simulators could be better than Disneyland. Think about it, Disneyland has everything from expensive, imaginative rides to restaurants and shopping. Disney parks are squeaky clean; the sets effectively transport you from the daily grind to the world of imagination.  On the surface you'd think Disney had us beat multiple times over. 

The Starship Magellan. Christa McAuliffe Space Center, Pleasant Grove, Utah.

     Having been to both Disneyland and Disneyworld many times, I'm in a good position to compare and contrast the best theme parks in the world to our humble log cabin approach in Utah County. I could write a small book on the subject but today I'll share one of my greatest realizations.

The Starship Apollo, Lions Gate Center at Lakeview Academy, Saratoga Spring, Utah.

     I noticed that when people get off a Disney ride they speak briefly about the experience. You hear things like: "That was awesome," to "I think I'm sick," to "That wasn't what I expected," to "That drop almost gave me a heart attack!". You also hear them talk about others in their group:
"Did you see mom's face?" and "I thought Dad was going to throw up!"

The Hyperion at Telos University, Orem, Utah

     The ride discussion quickly ends and the family starts talking about the next meal or hurting feet or exclamations to hurry to get the next Fast Pass. The ride discussion ends quickly because every participant had THE EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE! They were side by side. They all saw the same thing, heard the same sounds, smelled the same smells, and jumped at the same time.  A further discussion is pointless because every comment you make is answered with "We Know, we were there,".
     Now compare that to a group leaving one of our simulators after a fun 2.5 to 5 hour mission. Read the points I make below and see if I'm not spot on with this observation:

  • We hear from moms that their child's mission talk continues all the way home and then on for days afterword - Why?
  • Each person on a Space Center mission gets a different ride! Think about it. You have the captain who experiences a somewhat different mission than a security officer. Each person picks up certain story points that others don't because everyone does a different job.
  • Only by sharing your mission experience with the team does a team begin to understand the entire mission. A mission is like a jigsaw puzzle. Only by putting the pieces together do you get to see the picture.
  • Humans are story tellers. That is what we like to do when we get together. Think about your family gatherings. The adults set around and tell stories to each other. Think about the time you spend with your friends. Don't you tell each other stories? That's right, you're sharing your daily experiences and insights. If we don't have stories to tell, the conversation turns silent and we move on to another group where stories are still being shared

The Everest at Reality's Edge, Canyon Grove Academy, Pleasant Grove, Utah

     We have these stories because we all experience a different aspect to life. Are you getting my point? We slaughter Disney in one very important aspect - our 'rides' give everyone something different. In addition to that - our rides continue well beyond the time spent in the ships. The mission residue continues for years to come as stories pass from person to person on the semi-shared experience.
     This is only one aspect which describes the magic of a Space EdVentures experience.  What are your thoughts? 

All the Best,
Mr. Williamson

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

Imaginarium Memes