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

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Farpoint Jumpship Discovery Launches at American Heritage School in American Fork. What a Great Addition to the School's Curriculum. See the First Students to Fly and the Ship's Cool New Equipment

        The Farpoint Jumpship Discovery launched and completed its space trials during the first week of January.  The Discovery is the American Heritage Space Center's flagship at their American Fork campus.  Alex DeBirk, a long time volunteer and staff member of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center and the Starship Voyager at Renaissance Academy, is the director.  He has been working late into the night and weekends for the past few months in preparation for the launch.  And while the Discovery isn't completely finish (no simulator ever is no matter how long it has been open) it was certified space worthy.  The following are photos of the jumpship's first crews. 











The Discovery's Logo


The Discovery's Warp Core

     The Discovery has a small sick bay just off to the left of the Bridge.  Attached to the sick bay is a small warp core access room called "Bridge Engineering".  The jaw dropping prop in the room is the warp core engineered by Alex DeBirk.  The warp core has diffused led lights capable of doing patterns. The software to create the pulsing pattern was written by one of the school's parents. 



Alex DeBirk and the parent who programmed the warp core and is currently working on a new method of distributing power within Thorium

The Discovery's new power distribution program to be
incorporated within Thorium.  It take power distribution to then next level by adding some realism to the process and a whole bunch of animated coolness

The Cool Everything Box in the Discovery's Control Room


The Everything Box in the Discovery's Control Room. It does everything from
control the lights to play sound effects to run video plus more. It is amazing and each button is a monitor so you can change the name of the button using software.


The Discovery's Sick Bay


The Discovery has a small sick bay off to the left of the bridge.  The sick bay took an idea from the original Starship Voyager at the CMSC and has a three level bunk bed.  The area under the bottom bunk is a crawl space with a secret access hatch to the hallway separating the Discovery from the Galileo.  The sick bay is lined in FRP panelling - a tribute to the original Phoenix. 

The FRP panelling

     I stopped by to offer Alex some help organizing the school's Young Astronaut Club last Friday.  All American Heritage School students from grade 5 to 12 will take an inhouse field trip during the school year. They spend half the school day in science and engineering classes correlated to the mission and the other half of the day in the simulator.  Alex and I worked through multiple break out sessions to strengthen the curriculum of the mission and to properly tie the mission's theme to the classroom presentation.  
     Alex has done a tremendous job creating the space center at American Heritage.  It will bring engaging missions and lessons to the school's students for decades to come.  His work will also benefit the other Farpoint space centers (Telos University and The Space Place at Renaissance Academy). I look forward to conducting joint missions and possible competitions between the Young Astronauts at Renaissance Academy and American Heritage. 

Mr. Williamson 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center's Starship Phoenix Gets a New Set Director. Imaginarium Theater

It was an eventful night last Thursday at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center's Honors Night.  Several honors were bestowed by Mr. James Porter, along with a few of the Center's set directors.  Those honors will be highlighted over then next few weeks on The Troubadour. Today we want to make a big announcement heard first at Honor's Night. 

    

The Starship Phoenix has a New Set Director

Mason Perry Receiving the Phoenix Microphone from Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith recently graduated with a degree in computer programming and is actively seeking  professional employment.  Anticipating the move might come before the next Honor's Night, Jordan decided to pass the microphone before his official retirement.  Mr. Porter invited all staff to apply for the position of Phoenix Set Director.  Applicants were interviewed and a final decision was made. 

Attention, prepare for an important announcement. Hear Ye, Hear Ye.  Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.  Dominus Jameses Maximus Porterillius decrees that Mason Perry be appointed Set Director of the Starship Phoenix; so let it be written, so let it be done (forgive me blending my histories, it was done for effect). 

In a ceremony stretching back to the earliest days of the Space Center, Jordan Smith - the current Set Director handed the ship's flight director microphone, spittal and all, to the new Set Director.  Mason accepted the microphone signalling his acceptance of the calling and his willingness to steer the ship along the course set by the Jordan's hard work and firm hand on the rudder.  

Mason is an outstanding gentleman, scholar, and good judge of science fiction simulator stories.  Jordan trained him well and is pleased with the appointment.  

Mason's first decree was a changing of the Phoenix logo.  For the past several weeks Mason was in design mode, sketching the logo then making a color change here and a tuck there. He just happened to have his new logo on hand to show everyone at Honor's Night.   


Being a current Space Center Cassini Flight Director, I have early access to bits of news.  One afternoon I asked Mason to put the logos up on the ship's two front monitors to see how it dressed the room.  What do you think?



I like the logo.  The seven feathers represent the seven stations on the ship.  Mason has done well, but then he always has.  

This makes Mason the Phoenix's Sixth Set Director.

1.  Megan Warner
2.  Alex Anderson
3.  Dave Daymont
4.  Miranda Rendell
5.  Jordan Smith
6.  Mason Perry

Congratulations Mason Perry on your appointment to Phoenix Set Director and a heartfelt Thank You! to Jordan Smith for doing a bang up job transitioning the Phoenix from the old Space Center to the new.  Your mark Jordan will be on the ship as long as she flies.  

More on the Space Center's Honor's Night next week. 

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


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Katie Brings Her Emotional Support Tree. The Christa McAuliffe Space Center Yearly Attendance Report. What To Do With a Bored Field Trip Cadet - Wow the Socks Off Them. Imaginarium Theater.

Your Christa McAuliffe Space Center Staff: Unique, Talented, and Beautifully Weird in a Good Way!

Katie

      If you hang around the good people at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove you soon come to realize they are a broad mix of some of the brightest, creative, and dedicated people you'll ever meet.  Now take those aforementioned qualities, and add it a touch of beautifully weird, and you'll know why the Space Center is the best place to work and play in Utah.
     Pictured above is Katie.  Katie is an Odyssey flight director and Cassini supervisor.  I've had the honor and privilege of working with Katy on many occasion.  It wasn't until the Cassini's summer flight planning meeting a couple weeks ago that I got to see the 'other' side of Katy.  She came in, sat down, and took out a small Christmas tree.  It sat there through the meeting for all to enjoy.  It wasn't until afterwards that I put two and two together and realized that the tree was Katy's support tree.  Some have emotional support animals. Katy has an emotional support tree.  It gets her through the tough times - like an extended summer flight planning meeting with me in attendance.  I'm the one actively seeking out every mission plot hole and boring the room with trivial details on why a make belief ship shouldn't be in a make belief country doing scientifically impossible things.  I need to do what Star Trek does, put a technobabble bandage on the wound and call it healed.  

Victor   

The Space Center's 2021 Yearly Attendance Numbers.

 



2021 has been quite the year as we have settled into our new facility. Wanted to share some fun insights as we look at the impact of our ever growing program.

    2.5 hour flights = 972
    5 hour flights = 152
    5,138 planetarium visitors
    126 Field trip groups registered (school year)
    1,372 campers
    85 Active volunteers (too many hours to calculate)
    30 Part time employees
    2 Wedding ceremonies
    1 Lost admiral, anyone seen Tagus?

There is still a lot of work as we continue to advance toward making all of our simulators available more regularly. New planetarium shows are in development. Lots of staff training, internships, and volunteer opportunities for growth. It is amazing to look back and see all that is available for our community at our unique little program. It is possible thanks to so many wonderful people who contribute so much of their talents and time.
We look forward to this next year and enjoying it with all of you.

James Porter

From The Troubadour Archives. What To Do With a Bored Field Trip Cadet? Wow the Socks Off Them, That's What

February 24, 2008

Hello All,
     I want to thank our staff and volunteers for another successful week at the Space Center. March is upon us. I want to remind our volunteers and staff that the March Call for Volunteers is posted. Please look over the working schedule and send your requests by email. I’d like to get the working schedule out to everyone by week’s end. March is looking to be a busy month so we will need All Hands on Deck!
     I’m trying to put two supervisors on every Voyager and Magellan mission. Our Central School volunteers are filling many positions left open during the week. It seems our older volunteers are having a difficult time getting here on weekdays. I’m guessing the cause is two fold: busy schedules and the ever rising cost of gasoline. Our local Central School volunteers all live within walking distance of the Space Center. They enjoy working but are young and need supervision. Two supervisors on the larger simulators will help provide them with the supervision and training they require to become better volunteers.
     You’ll notice an increase in the number of schools coming for after school field trips. March, April and May are full of school’s arriving at 2:00 P.M. and leaving at 6:00 P.M. They are sending two classes each day. This means an addition ‘full’ field trip of classes, Starlabs, and missions.
     Our daytime staff will need your full support. It isn’t easy teaching four of everything each day. The repetition can be mind numbing. I’m confident we will do exceptionally well because we have high standards and an awesome staff who always do their best to give our visitors the best field trip in Utah. Hats off to Sheila, Aleta, Lorraine, Metta, Megan, Stacy, Bracken, Jordan, Jon P., Brooklyn, Christine, Marc, Kim, and all the Central School 5th and 6th grade volunteers.
     I’m reminded of something I heard from a young lady last week. A sixth grade class was finishing their training on the Voyager Bridge. The Right Wing Flight Officer was looking around the Bridge impatiently. She had mastered the look of a bored teenager - not bad for a 12 year old. She raised her hand.
     “Is this all we’re going to do is sit here?” she asked. “I’m getting bored.”
     “Yes, all you’re going to do is sit here so I’ll guess your going to be bored.” I answered. I wanted to say much more. You can’t imagine the will power required not to. The words were at the tip of my tongue already formed, fueled, and waiting for launch. A couple consonants and a vowel hissed out between my clenched teeth but quickly retracted and were swallowed.
     Her face collapsed into a production of distortions carefully rehearsed to convey extreme frustration at not being entertained. I could tell she needed something. My guess was her ipod - the pacifier of a new generation. This new generation goes from the baby bottle in the mouth to headphones into the ears. I see ‘the young’ everywhere with wires running from their belts to their ears. Their brains seem to need constant noise and entertainment. The sounds of human voices and nature are no longer satisfying.
     Some teens have such a distant look on their faces it makes me wonder what they are listening to. I can only guess; “Breath in and Breath out. Walk. Stop. Breath in and Breath out. Walk. Stop. Breath in and breath out. Walk Stop. Chew gum. Breath in and Breath out. Walk Stop. Chew Gum.”
     I turned from the young lady and continued to work with the other children that had real questions. In the back of my head I wondered what her opinion would be of the mission.
     I started the mission. Her face was square in the center of one of my TV monitor. I watched her reactions as the mission progressed. Tex’s speech did nothing for her. Her head rested on her hand. Her elbow was firmly planted on the desk. Her eyes were fixed upon the black ceiling. I wondered if she was praying for deliverance.
     Soon I was lost in the mission and lost interest in tracking her reactions. At the end of the mission I remembered to look at her again.
     “That was awesome!” I heard her telling her friend from across the room.
     “Did you see...........? I saved the ship by............ My heart was beating so fast.........” She went on and on as she left the bridge. I sat back in my chair and began shutting off equipment. You know you’ve done a good job when you can change a teenagers opinion from “This is stupid” to “This was awesome!”
     So..... several days late and in the quiet of my own home I stand and take a bow to the four walls of my living room. I’ve conquered a teacher’s Mount Everest. 
     Another week starts. Hundreds of kids are getting ready for the ultimate field trip. If you are one of those kids I want you to know that we are ready for you. We’ve been here 17 years training and preparing for you - just you.
     My thanks to the students and teachers that visit us weekly. My thanks to a great staff and volunteers that make the Space Center the magical place it is.

Mr. Williamson

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


Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center is Looking for a Field Trip Educator. Nothing Beats the Space Service. Also, This Week's Imaginarium Theater

Classroom and Planetarium Field Trip Staff.  Doug and Lorraine

Hello Space EdVenturers!   

     The Christa McAuliffe Space Center is looking for someone to help with the school day field trip program. You'll learn how to operate the planetarium AND you'll be privileged to work with three of the finest educators I know, James Porter, Doug Pusey and Lorraine Houston. I'd be applying today if it wasn't for 83 sixth graders at Renaissance Academy who need me, not to mention all the fun I'd miss at The Space Place with our Young Astronauts and Voyager Club cadets. If you're interested, read this short description from Mr. Porter, CMSC Director.    

Christa McAuliffe Space Center Position Opening


     The Christa McAuliffe Space Center is looking for a dynamic and engaging individual who can help running field trip lessons and planetarium. Maybe you are space enthusiast parent who is looking for a job that lets you drop off your kids, go to work with us, and still be home before they get off school. That's this job!
     If you are interested in the position the details of how to apply are included in this link. Please consider it.

Imaginarium Theater

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