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

Sunday, October 24, 2021

See Utah County's Newest Starship Simulator Under Construction at American Heritage School in American Fork. It's a Beauty! Plus, This Week's Imaginarium Theater


On Monday, October 18 I stopped at American Heritage School (AHS) in American Fork to visit with Alex DeBirk.  Alex is the school's high school physics teacher, creativity lab director, and director of the school's space center.  In his spare time, Alex renovates homes, is an actor at Hale Center Theater in Sandy and his most important job is a husband and father.  He is a busy man.  

Alex worked at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in his high school days as a volunteer, supervisor, and flight director.  That's where he caught the Space EdVentures bug.  For some, it never leaves you.  

Alex designed the new Starship Voyager at Renaissance Academy. He worked there helping me with the Young Astronauts and Voyager Club until it was time to start his own program at American Heritage.  His Voyager Club at American Heritage got off to a good start in the 2019-2020 school year.  He had six squadrons who came to Renaissance Academy for their after school club meetings.  Then Covid hit and everything shut down.  

Last school year he was given the green light to create a space center at AHS.  With a cash input from the school and many many donations of money, time, and talent from the school's community the new center is moving rapidly towards an opening date in January.  

I knew the program would be awesome because that's what Alex does - awesome so I had to stop by and see it all for myself.  I took several pictures which are all posted here for our Space EdVenture fans so let's get started and see this new center under construction.  

American Heritage's Space Center and the Starships Discovery and Galileo   (both working names, the proper names haven't been decided) 


The Creativity Lab.  Room 1 

 

The American Heritage Space Center (AHSC) is located on the second floor of the new high school wing of the school under construction. Alex met me in the creativity lab (that's what I call it, I don't remember what its real name is).  It looks like a high school woodshop right?  This is where the magic happens.    



The first thing that caught my eye was this speaker.  Do you recognize it?  This was one of two speakers that sat on the first Starship Voyager's bridge when it opened in November 1990.  This speaker has seen a lot in its 31 years.  I'm happy it was rescued from the CMSC's demolition.   


Alex showed me his current project, the construction of two Discovery Bridge front control stations.  He and his high school students designed the desks and are building them right there onsite.  


The two desks look very Star Trek Next Generation, don't they?  



Alex showed me how they are building the rounded edges to the many pieces of bridge furniture.  


Building complicated pieces of furniture takes sophisticated equipment like this precision wood cutter.

The American Heritage Space Center's Classroom.  Room 2

Our next stop on the tour was Alex's proper classroom next to the Creativity Lab.  This is where he teaches his school day classes and, starting in January, where the school's 5th - 12th graders will all go during the school day for their Discovery Club (their Voyager Club) meetings. 


  

The classroom has 3D printers and other equipment which will be used by the students to create props and equipment for their space missions and starships.  The missions will be written with these pieces of equipment in mind. The missions give the students reasons to research, design and build the tools to successfully complete the mission objectives.  For example....... 

 

Alex's students needed phasers for their starship security teams.  They designed their own phasers and are in the process of 3D printing them.  These are not your typical store bought toy phasers.  The students designed their phasers to have cartridges which take a certain number of blast rounds.  Discovery security will be mindful of the number of rounds in each phasers and take care in how they fire those rounds.  I think it is genius.  Well done!  


The back of the classroom houses the Starship Discovery's Mission Control Area (under development).  The students built the computers.  



The entrance to the Starship Discovery is in the back of the classroom through this hallway....


....at the end of which is the turning door to the bridge.  

Starship Discovery.  Room 3


Go through the turning door, turn a corner and you're on the bridge of the Starship Discovery.


The ship's ceiling, sound, and lighting fixtures were being installed while I was there. 


The Discovery's Bridge has two small platforms at the back.  The platforms will have side lights. 


The Captain's Chair will be in a small half circle alcove at the top of a ramp leading to the top of the bridge.  It's that cool lit area in the photo.  


This amazing light feature illuminates the alcove directly over the captain's head.  The captain will be the brightest person on the bridge (whether he or she truly is or not will be a question answered during the many missions this ship will fly over many decades).   


This is the bridge as the captain will see it from his chair.  An 85 inch main viewer will be mounted at the front of the bridge.  The entrance is on the right.  The sick bay and engineering rooms are accessed from the opening on the left.  



Alex pointed drew my attention to the sloping of the bridge walls towards the front main viewer.  You can see Alex's imagination in this design, after all, he has a master degree in engineering!  


Looking out onto the bridge from the sick bay.  Alex is considering how the sick bay will be furnished. Will it have a three of four tiered bunk bed for its patients.  


The hallway to the Discovery's Shuttlebay is to the Captain's left at the back of the Bridge.  There is a short hallway leading to another revolving door.  Alex is looking in through the unused emergency exit door from the bridge. 

The Shuttlebay.  Room 4



The American Heritage Space Center's last room is the shuttlebay.  Do you recognize the ship?  Yes, you're looking at the new home of the Starship Galileo from the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. American Heritage purchased the Galileo from the CMSC and will use it as either a stand alone starship or a Discovery shuttlecraft.  Because there is another Galileo at the new Christa McAuliffe Space Center, Alex will rename this ship to avoid confusion within the Space EdVentures Fleet.  Any suggestions?  

In a few months Utah County will open its sixth Space EdVenture Center:

1.  The Christa McAuliffe Space Center. James Porter Director. Starships Magellan, Cassini, Galileo, Phoenix, Odyssey, and Falcon.
2.  Telos Space Center. Dr. Ryan Anderson Director.  Starship Hyperion.
3.  Reality's Edge at Canyon Grove Academy. Bradyn Lystrup Director.  Starships Pathfinder and Everest. 
4.  The Space Place at Renaissance Academy.  Bracken Funk Director.  Starships Voyager and Titan.
5.  The Lion's Gate Center at Lakeview Academy.  Nathan    King Director.  Starships Leo, Apollo, and Artemis.
6.  American Heritage Space Center. Alex DeBirk Director.  Starships Discovery and ???.  

I'm excited to work with Alex on this new project.  He has asked me to write a few of the Center's opening missions.  The first one is nearly complete.  Stay tuned to The Troubadour for more news on all the Space Centers.

Victor

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


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Lissa Eager Hadfield Retires from Space Center Service. What an Amazing 7 Years! Flightmares at The Space Place at Renaissance Academy. Imaginarium Theater


Lissa's Final Mission Staff and Volunteers

I've been told that all good things must end and sadly that came true on Saturday, October 2 when Lisa Hadfield completed her last mission with the Magellan, her home away from home for the last several years.  And with the last "Hurray!" from the crew and polite applause from her staff, she repeated those famous Flight Director words heard only on the Magellan (they're the only simulator commanded by a commodore), "Congratulations Commodore and Crew, you guys successfully finished your mission!"   

Today, The Troubadour celebrates Lissa's last mission and reflects on her career at the Space Center.  The photos and video are courtesy of Audrey Henriksen.


Lissa's Final Crew

Lissa started at the Space Center in 2014.  She was a member of my Voyager Club which met early Saturday mornings on the Magellan.  

Lissa with her Voyager Club Squadron plotting their winning strategy for one of our early Saturday morning club flights.  Notice Nolan and Lindsey was also on her team and have since moved on to become flight directors  

Lissa as a young volunteer awaiting her turn to do something in the Magellan.

It didn't take long for Lissa's talents to shine.  She earned her Magellan supervisor Blue Shirt

Lissa and Lindsey were given purple shirts and restarted the Space Center Actor's Guild



In February 2017 Lissa became a Flight Director. The Phoenix was her first ship.


Lissa and Jake Hadfield live in Lehi.  Jake is finishing up his schooling.  Lissa has taken a position in a medical office in Lehi and what can we say, the opportunity was too good to turn down.  Life has a way of doing that. 

        
The last couple minutes of Lissa's last mission. I apologize for the video
quality. It is the best I could get from the source.

On behalf of all of us who know you, love you, and have worked with you, let me offer our sincerest farewell.  You'll be greatly missed by the staff, volunteers, and the campers who were privileged to sit in your ships and experience the Space Center from a truly talented storyteller and flight director.  

Goodbye Lissa! 


The Space Place at Renaissance Academy Offers "Flightmares!" This Halloween Season


If you're wanting a scary space mission then you need to book a place on the Starship Voyager at Renaissance Academy's The Space Place.  Bracken Funk, Megan Warner and BJ Warner do a fantastic job telling a chilling story set in the deep dark recess of space.  

I stopped by last Saturday for a few hours to enjoy the Halloween atmosphere on the Voyager.  


I found BJ Warner getting all decked out in a freaky robot outfit.  Come on, a poorly programmed space robot is perfect for Halloween. So what if he seemed preoccupied with DEATH!  


And then there are the volunteers love to scare kids, and are even happier when they can use a bit of theatrical makeup to do the job even better.








There are a few tickets left on the last mission if you dare........Come join us and enjoy 5 hours of the unknown.   

Imaginarium Theater

The best videos from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Young Astronaut and Voyager Clubs are off to a Great Start this School Year at Renaissance Academy. Plus the Imaginarium Theater.

 

Hello Troops,

Monday was the first meeting of this year's Young Astronauts and Voyager Club for the 2021-2022 school year at Renaissance Academy.  The Voyager Club is for students in grades 6 to 9.  The Young Astronaut Club is for students in grades 3 - 5.  There are 165 students enrolled in the club this school year.  Students are referred to as cadets. 



Voyager Cadets on the Starship Voyager


The cadets are divided into squadrons of between 8 to 10 students.  The squadrons meet once a month on average with a total of 8 meetings per school year.  Meetings go from 3:20 P.M. to 5:20 P.M.  The meeting agenda for October was:

  • Welcome to the Club. 
  • An overview of the Starship Voyager's bridge positions
  • Selection of bridge positions for each cadet for the first two meetings.

  • Training in those positions in the Voyager simulator.
  • A discussion of the club's motto and pledge
  • An introduction to the club's point and ranking system
  • An introduction to the Farpoint Universe our simulation curriculum uses for missions.
  • A video on the New Space Age
  • A discussion on the importance of doing well in their math and science classes.
  • The meeting ended with pictures showing all the ships in the Space EdVenture Fleets.   

The Young Astronauts and Voyager Club's Pledge


The Young Astronauts and Voyager Club's Logo


The Closest Galactic Houses to Earth's in the 
Farpoint Universe


The Starship Voyager's Vital Statistics 



The Young Astronauts and Voyager Club's 
Ranking System and Points

The Cadets wear lanyards identifying their rank during meetings and on board the Voyager.  Cadets are issued club t-shirts as part of their tuition.  

Bracken Funk in the Voyager Control Room

Bracken Funk is responsible for the simulation curriculum. He is the director of The Space Place at Renaissance Academy.  
Larry Vindinha is responsible for the club's team building curriculum. He is the school's 7-8 grade science teacher.  I'm responsible for the club's space science curriculum and teach the classroom portion of club meetings.  It is a great team.  I'm spot on when I say there isn't a better space science club for students in grades 3 - 9 anywhere in the state of Utah.  

We have great students, parents, and staff.  The 165 Young Astronauts and Voyager Cadets are off to a fantastic start at Renaissance Academy.

Mr. Williamson

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

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The New Space Center at American Heritage School In American Fork is Coming Along. The Imaginarium Theater.

 Hello Troops!

Today I'm posting pictures showcasing our good friend and long time Space Center alumni Alex DeBirk. Alex, along with his high school students, is building the new space center at American Heritage School in American Fork, Utah.  This new Utah County space center will have two simulators: the Galileo from the Christa McAuliffe Space Center and an all new ship yet to be named.  This new simulator will be one for the books: designed and built by American Heritage students and their awesome teacher - Alex.  The set designs are phenomenal!  I hope to stop by this week to see it all in person.  Until then, we will have to let our imagination soar with the photos Alex has supplied.  













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