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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

More Photos from the Old Central Elementary School and Space Center (A Continuation from Last Week's Post). This Week's Imaginarium Theater

Hello Troops,
     Last week's post started our photograph tour of the old Central School we all fondly remember.  This week's post continues where that post left off - in the Cafeteria and Kitchen area.  Once again I want to thank Central's Custodian, Brandon Pace, for the photos he took of the school all ready to open for its last school year, the 2019-2020 school year.  
     Each of the photos you see have Space Center memories for our Space Center staff and volunteers.  In addition to my Space Center memories, I have my memories of these hallways and rooms from my time teaching 6th grade full time from 1983 - 1990 before I opened the Space Center. 

     The Lunchroom.  My biggest Space Center memories of this room are:  This is where we set up the USS Falcon weekend simulator in the two Starlab Domes.  This was also where we had many a movie night after returning from swimming on our 3 day overnight camps.  And let's not forget the many many landing parties this area gave us.  Great times for sure.

     Looking from the entrance of the Lunchroom toward the Galileo.  Needless to say, this part of the Lunchroom was our domain.  The floor had permanent ruts from the Galileos wheels.  We sure made our mark on the old school.

     This was the walk in refrigerator.  I was in and out of this fridge all summer long for our summer camp meals and every Friday and Saturday for our overnight camp food.  This was also my place to cool down when the school's air conditioner would go out.  A few minutes in the "cooler" and I was good to go for another hour.

     Ah, the kitchen itself.  This is where Bill Schuler and Aleta Clegg spent many a summer cooking up our summer camp meals. Our staff used this area for landing parties way back in the early 1990's until the lunchroom staff put a stop to it.  Over time our landing party locations were whittled back to certain areas of the school.  

     The Faculty Room across from the Lunchroom.  The Space Center used this room on weeknight and weekends and summers for mission briefings and landing party areas.  One memory that comes to mind was the time Bracken Funk used this room during the summer as a major crime scene for his crews to do forensics.  Great Times!  

     The Workroom.  Late on a Friday night you'd find me in here making photocopies of  checks and cash.  It was required by the district accountants for all bank deposits.  I'd be making photo copies with the door closed so my work didn't disrupt the endless hallway landing parties of 5 busy simulators.

     The school's front office and foyar are just up and to the left in this photo.  The library and Briefing Room were on the right, opposite the school's front doors.


     The school's entrance and foyer.  How many times did you sit on that bench and wait for your ride to pick you up from your Space Center duties?  For many an overnight camp this is where I'd gather the overnight camp campers at 11:30 P.M., give them their final bathroom break, read them the overnight camp rules, and then disperse them to their sleeping areas.  The staff stood behind me to accept the campers and show them to their sleeping quarters.  

     The entrance to the school and Space Center.  Think of the hundred thousands of people both young and old who came through those doors for field trips and camps during the Space Center's time in the old building.  Amazing, isn't it? 

     Central School started in 1893 in its first building which sat on this same property.  This display case in the school's foyer held many mementos from the school's long past.

     Opposite the display case was the school's office.  The sick room was at the back of the office.  Many an ill camper laid on that sick bed waiting for a parent pick up on the long summer overnight camps.  Many a time I'd be in that room looking for bandaids to heal the scraps and cuts from crawling around in the ships and hallways. 
     That's it for this post.  Watch for more next week along with photos from the Space Center's last Honor's Night held on Thursday night.  

Mr. W. 

Imaginarium Theater

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

A Few of the Last Pictures of the Old Central School. Our Landing Party Territory. Lots of Memories in those Hallways. Imaginarium Theater.

 Hello Troops,

Now that the Space Center is operating at full steam in the new Central School, I thought now would be a good time to publish a series of photographs of the old Central School taken by Central's head custodian, Brandon Pace.  These photos were to be the the last detailed photos of the old building in all its glory.

I'm posting them here because most of the old Central School was truly a part of the Space Center.  Nearly every square inch of that building, including the roof, was used over the many years as ship sets and landing party destinations.  As you look at these parting photographs of the old school, think back on all the time you spent in those halls, rooms, and crawl spaces.  Do you have a fond memory sparked by looking at one of these photos?  Please share that memory with me.

A Look at our Old Central School in All Her Glory (The first in a series of posts).

The kindergarten hallway from the exit doors.  A great hallway for distant landing parties.
Admiral Schuler use to bring overnight camp landing parties down this hallway.  From here they would crawl on their bellies through the hallway back toward the Voyager.

The doorway to the boiler room.  This was the entrance to the school's spook allie for the 
Halloween Carnival.  In the Space Center's early days (1990's) we also took students down to the boiler room for landing parties. We never actually went into the boiler room, just down the spooky crawl spaces.

The staircase down to the boiler room.  Imagine a landing party late on a Friday night heading down these stairs for a rendezvous with destiny.

At the bottom of the stairway, our landing parties would make a left through this door and into the crawl space.

This was the crawl space. Awesome isn't it?  

One of the phantom staircases leading to nowhere from the boiler room.  These staircases
were part of the second Central School

Ah, the Fallout Shelter sign.

The hallway from the boys bathroom at the top of the ramp looking toward the school's 
parking lot.  How many times did you walk this hallway heading home from a mission?

This was another landing party stairway. This was the stairway leading to basement 
from the cafeteria's kitchen.  Bottom left was where the kitchen stored food.  We also used
it as Space Center storage.  To the right is the doorway that led to the Space Center's wood and metal shop.

To the right, the storage area directly under the kitchen

The old dumbwaiter leading up to the kitchen.

The crawlspace  under the kindergarten hallway.  This was also a part of the 
school's spook allie.  It was used extensively for landing parties back in the day.
"Watch out for the beam," we'd tell the campers.  Lots of bumped heads back then.

The Space Center's old wood and metal shop in the basement. This is where many of the set decorations were built back in the day.

The Space Center's old wood and metal shop in the basement. This is where many of the set decorations were built back in the day.

The Space Center's old wood and metal shop in the basement. This is where many of the set decorations were built back in the day.  If you look closely at the top of the trashcan you can see one of the fake hatches we built for the ships.

And the last picture for this post, the hallway leading to the simulators from the kindergarten hall.

Imaginarium Theater
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Sunday, August 15, 2021

A New Way to Get Your Space Center Fix. Introducing Celestial Horizons. You've Got to Check This Out. This Week's Imaginarium Theater. Enjoy!

     Many months ago Christine and James Smith, both former Space Center employees, stopped by my home to tell me about something amazing they were in the process of imagineering with Nathan Young, another former Space Center employee.  They called it Celestial Horizons. 

     Christine announced the launch of the project with this email sent in May:
     We’re super excited to have officially launched Celestial Horizons! Celestial Horizons is an interactive sci-fi narrative that’s been started by several previous Space Center staff. This Saturday (May 22), we will be starting a podcast that centers around the crew of the Ark Lyravea, a sleeper ship with 100,000 people frozen in cryosleep as they travel to a distant solar system. Things aren’t going as smoothly as they would hope. Our audience will have the opportunity to listen to the podcast or read the narrative content, then participate in discussions on our Discord server acting as crew members of The Ark. Those discussions will influence what will happen next in the story. The outcome of the podcast will set up the society that we follow in later Celestial Horizons content.
Here’s the links!

     In an effort to highlight the project I've taken the following information directly from their website.

The Story of Celestial Horizons

In 2197, we left Earth behind to claim the stars as our own. We took starships. Dreams frozen in time. A gate to bring us home.

Celestial Horizons is comprised of many stories set in a single shared universe. It principally follows the inhabitants of Kepler-62, a solar system 900 light years away, after it has been colonized by a ship from Earth. After hundreds of years, the time has come to reactivate the gate—a wormhole device paired to one back at Earth—to make contact once more with the rest of humanity. But Kepler-62, called Hypatia by those who colonized it, is full of dangers, and even greater threats lie beyond the gate. Celestial Horizons is the story of the human spirit, the challenges of a technology-mediated world, and the decisions we make, both large and small, that shape the world we live in.  

Our stories draw heavily from the rich traditions of the science-fiction genre. Our narratives are based in the ideas, concerns, and developments of our day. We are pulling heavily from the physical and social sciences and will be exploring the challenges and intricacies of our modern world through a futuristic lens. You will find nuanced explorations of difficult situations created by conflicting ideas and worldviews. We hope to create a safe space to engage with the multifaceted challenges of our day.  

However, at its core, our stories will be exciting. They take place at the forefront of our future timeline, following the people shaping its history with skill and cunning. You will be able to battle, explore, negotiate, spy, and strategize their way through a variety of challenges on their way to victory. Your decisions then become canon in our story world, allowing you to personally affect the way events develop. Through the collective action of the community, individual battles will be won and lost, space-faring nations will rise and fall, and the fate of humanity will be decided.


  • What makes this different than other science fiction shows? Our audience has the unique opportunity to interact with our show. As you watch the latest episode you will be able to influence and help shape the course of the story.
  • How can I help? Help spread the news! Get involved with our Discord and join our other social media pages. Growing our audience is the only way we will be able to continue creating podcasts, live-streamed video episodes, software, and the many other projects that we have planned. In the future we will launch a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the show as well as additional projects we have planned for the future. Keep an eye on social media and our News page for updates!
  • Who is this show for? Our target audience is anyone who enjoys science fiction, drama, philosophy, or moral dilemma. Although we do not categorize our content as “explicit”, we cover some mature topics and our scripts contain some moderate language, which may not be appropriate for all audiences.

     For your convenience, I've included the first episode from the YouTube channel for your enjoyment.
Let's support our old Space Center compatriots in this new venture.  Let me know what you think.




Imaginarium Theater

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center and The Space Places's Last Summer Camps of the 2021 Season. Great People, Great Campers, Great Starships. The Imaginarium Theater.

      Two Space EdVenture Centers held their last summer space camps for the 2021 season last week.  The Christa McAuliffe Space Center's last camp was Friday.  The Space Place at Renaissance Academy held its final camp Saturday night.  

     Mason Perry flew the Phoenix.  He flew "Finding the Libertaria" (the last Phoenix crew is pictured above).  I sat in on the five hour camp.  Mason did an outstanding job.  "I want you to tell me how I can improve and feel free to give any suggestions," Mason said to me just after the mission got underway.  I admire anyone who is open to suggestions.  It shows they love their work and want to be the best.  Of course all flight directors have their own style, so it should never be "It's my way or the highway" but learning from each other is the Space Center way.  Mason was kind enough to education me on the Phoenix.  After all those years of listening to the Phoenix missions from my desk in the old Briefing Room I'm ashamed to admit I understood the ship the least of all the simulators.  Mason took the time to education me on Phoenix lore, methods, missions, and philosophy.  Only now do I fully appreciate the task of flying the Phoenix - a ship stuck between the big ships (Magellan and Cassini) and the little ships (Odyssey, Falcon, and Galileo).  My hat is off to Jordan (Phoenix Set Director) and his outstanding staff. 

     Connor Larsen flew "Ashes of War" for the Magellan's last summer camp.  He is pictured above with Audrey Henriksen (Supervisor) going over a few story details.  This camp was Conner's last before returning to the east coast for school and his second favorite job after flight directing - playing the organ for the local Catholic parish.    

     "Ashes of War" opens with the crew donning orange safety vests and boarding an unfinished starship two weeks away from its official launch.  Pictured above is Scott Wiltbank, geared out as a very laidback construction cleaner with hair desperate for a good wash and brush.    

     Working alongside Scott was Nolan Welch (above in blue), his custodial sidekick known to be dangerous with a vacuum cleaner in the performance of his duties.  Many a varicose vein has been ruptured due to his disregard for people's legs as he powers through a bridge with this ACME portable vacuum cleaner model 13B (pictured below).   


Connor teaching his crew how to properly use the Magellan's magnetic tracking map

     And finally, the formal crew photo for the Magellan's final summer space camp.  The Magellan is a beautiful simulator with a dedicated staff of teens and young adults who work hard to ensure every camper has a meaningful experience in their simulator.  

Just a few of the happy people who make the Magellan a magical place

     Pictured above is the final summer camp crew of the USS Cassini.  They flew "Greenpeace", a wonderful mission I wrote over 20 years ago.  To be honest, I'd lost my appreciation for Greenpeace as a good story. My attitude quickly changed over the weeks I sat in the Cassini Control Room working with Jon Parker.  His appreciation for the story grew on me until it was my turn to take the helm of the Cassini and fly the mission myself.  Now that the summer is over, and I flight directed the mission many times throughout July and the first week of August, I have to say that I once again really like the mission and am glad Jon choose it for the Cassini's summer camp story.  


     I want to thank Jon Parker, Katie Young, Nolan Welch, Ian McOmber, and Scott Wiltbank for welcoming me into their ranks as a formal staff member of the Cassini.  I'm not always an easy person to work with when I flight direct.  I like to change things on the fly and add or take away story aspects to fit the crew or my particular interest for the day.   Of course I'd get looks of shock and horror as I played the Cassini like a crazed flight director on the odd day but they recovered quickly and rolled with every twist and turn I threw at them.  
     Jon was kind enough to critique my missions and in the end I GOT MY CASSINI FLIGHT DIRECTOR PASS FOR GREENPEACE!  All that is left is relearning my field trip missions and then I think I'll be an asset to the ship and a help for Jon who has been shouldering the Cassini all by his lonesome for the longest time.  

The last Cassini crew learning the ship's electrical panel

     This is Natalie Anderson (left) and her last summer camp crew on the USS Odyssey.  Natalie's love for flying, and the Odyssey itself, is perfectly evident when you watch her fly in the ship's Control Room.  Natalie is a busy person with school, life, and her writing career, and yet there is always time for the Odyssey.  She is another one of those amazing people at the CMSC who grew up attending camps and volunteering.  The craft and science of flight directing is strong with this one.  

     The CMSC's summer season officially ended at 6:10 P.M. Friday with the tallying of final votes, the announcement of the camp's top simulator, and the taking of the final staff and volunteer photos.   Conner leaves Utah with a win for the Magellan.  All that was left was the fat lady's song and the turning out of the lights.  
     The CMSC will be closed for this week for carpet cleaning and reopens on August 12 for private missions.  School field trips begin September 1. 

The Space Place at Renaissance Academy's Last Camp for the 2021 Summer Season.  

       I drove to The Space Place in Lehi to observe a part of Bracken Funk's last summer camp for the 2021 summer season.  The camp started at 5:00 P.M. and ended at 11:00 P.M.  It was a six hour telling of a version of my old mission "Supernova".  This adaptation was called "SpookyNova" and set in the FarPoint Universe.   Most of the crew were current or former Renaissance Academy students as were the volunteers working behind the scenes to make the mission awesome for their friends.   

     Megan Warner worked IIFX and ran our outstanding staff for the night (L-R:  Mark, Nathan, Italia, Sawyer, Isaac, and the CMSC's Scott Wiltbank). Scott graciously came out to help because Bracken was short a bridge person / doctor for the mission.  Thank you Scott for pinch hitting and saving the day.  You are appreciated.
     Even I did my bit to make the mission successful.  I briefed the crew on the mission.  After my riveting oratory the crew uniformed up, bathroomed and watered, and lined up in firing order for the transpod journey to the waiting Starship Voyager above.   

                                Bracken met them on the bridge and the training session began.  

The Final Summer Camp Crew of the Starship Voyager commanded by Jackson with Brandon as his first officer

Jackson patiently waiting for his orders to be carried out. 
 Oliver at sensors looking intelligent

      Better crews are hard to come by and this crew ranks near the top of the heap.  Of course I taught most of them as 6th graders so awesomeness was instilled in them.  

The crew as pictured from the back of the bridge

     The Space Place's Starship Voyager lives true to its name in what it offers a crew as a set and a flight director for story telling.  For example, this is the ship's brig, just around the corner from the ship's Bridge.  Notice the force field lights - activated with the small touch screen mounted to the wall.  Tap it and the force field lights come on and off - all accompanied with sound effects.  Cool? Right?

Voyager hallway signs as you exit the Transpod

Bracken and Megan mid flight.  Looks complicated doesn't it?

And finally, the large screen TV used to track the crew throughout the mission.

     I start the 2021-2022 school year on Tuesday with teacher inservice classes and classroom set up.  Students return to school on Tuesday, August 17.  The summer has flown by it they always do.  I'm looking forward to meeting my new students and getting the year off to a great start.  I'm also very happy to get back into the Voyager and Cassini Control Rooms to practice the art and science of flight directing.  It is a passion of mine if you haven't noticed.  Is there a better job on this planet?  I seriously doubt it.  


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