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

Sunday, March 27, 2022

My Classroom is Set for War: Practicing the Art and Science of Experiential Education in Space and the Classroom.

     I'm using the art and science of experiential education six days a week; whether it be in space aboard the Starships Voyager and Cassini or in my sixth grade classroom at Renaissance Academy in Lehi.  Let me give you an example from this week.  My challenge - how do I take something as mundane as the creation of the Triple Entente of 1907, and its significance in creating the world we live in today, from a lecture to an experience?  The task pulls my thoughts far to the right side of the brain where creativity thrives. 

     Last week, as part of the modern history segment of my hour long history class (my class period is divided into modern history - 1900 - present, and ancient history) the students worked their way through the reasoning and rationale for the creation of the Triple Entente by seeing it play out in the room. They saw the students playing the German and Austria Hungary ambassadors working together on an alliance called The Triple Alliance.  They read the posted headlines on Germany's push to build battleships.  The classroom Czar was concerned.  He discussed a possible alliance with the French and British classroom ambassadors. Their discussions resulted in a new treaty - the Triple Entente.  The treaty was signed in class on Thursday and is now in force.    


The Czar signing the Triple Entente   

The Hallway News Announcing the Signing

The Treaty signed by the Czar, Great Britain, and France with Serbia looking on

The Document.

     This week there is news that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the crown prince of Austria Hungary, and his wife are to visit Sarajevo in Bosnia.  I wonder what will come of that?  I have a feeling things may get interesting.......

An Economy Based on Everything Bread Instead of Gold

Everything Bread, our Gold Standard :)

     You can't run an effective classroom government simulation without a stable currency.   My classroom has such a monetary system - the Denarii.  Remember, I teach a mixture of modern and ancient history.  The simulation experience is set in modern history but we use the Roman Denarii as our currency.
     The Denarii's purchasing power gives it value.  While some national currencies rely on gold for foundational value, my Denarii rely on two things, the penny candy sugar bucket stored high on a shelve and Walmart's Everything Bread - a strong favorite by the vast majority of my students.  I keep a sliced loaf at my desk every day.  For the inexpensive price of one denarii, a student can satisfy a bout of hunger by purchasing one slice of Everything Bread from my desk bakery.  
     The Czar runs his government on Denarii, a currency with value thanks to Walmart's Everything Bread. Thank you Walmart.  
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Sunday, March 20, 2022

A Murder at the Space Center: Committed, Investigated, and Solved in One Evening. An Early Photo of the Voyager's Bridge Found. Imaginarium Theater.

People Who Entertain for a Living Need to be Entertained.  Thank You Tyler Weight 

     Last week a brutal murder was committed at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. Found dead was the fragile sweetheart of the forest, Snow White.  Her body was discovered outside the Magellan's transporter exit.  

A photo of Snow White taken minutes before the heinous crime. She was enjoying herself 
with "friends" when her life was cut short - and no prince's kiss could save her.

     The question to be solved, who was the culprit?  Those present when the dastardly deed was committed were people you know from your childhood; people you grew up with, some you even admire to this day.  Let me introduce the suspects :

Jon "Big Teeth" the Wolve

     Throughout the night your fabled heroes mingled and mixed whilst enjoying a lavish banquet to celebrate the pending arrival of spring. It was for many a last supper of innocents for after the meal there was one dead among them and one or more quilty.

     The clues to unwrapping the mystery and identifying the quilty were held by all. The trick was to acquire the clues by bartering, purchasing and even most strongly coercing the facts from some willing to exonerate themselves, and others whose sideways glances and sweaty foreheads foretold involvement. 

     Just before the midnight hour the murderer was unmasked.
   Today, I present to you the face of evil itself; for only one so possessed of such darkness could conceive and carry out a most foul crime against an unblemished soul.  The murderer was...... Herb, a tormented, deformed dwarf - shunned from his fellow dwarfs because of his towering height.  He was, by all accounts, a lonely creature - pitied by those of a forgiving nature. However, that pity did not save him, for Snow White's blood called from the moss blanketed forest floor for vengeance and justice was done. The dwarf somehow found his way to and unguarded exterior airlock with a faulty flushing mechanism.  I fear the worst......      

     Sadly I was unable to attend, a school teacher at the scene of a murder would not be proper.  I want to thank Audrey Henricksen for the photos and of course, we all thank Tyler Weight for creating and sponsoring the event. 
     Now, Mr. Porter, and the rest of the Space Center staff have some explaining to do when the Disney executives come looking for their lost starlet.   

The Space Center Staff enjoying an evening not to be forgotten

An Early Photo from the Voyager's Bridge Found

     The Space Center was open for 16 months when this picture was taken on the bridge of the Starship Voyager in March of 1992.  The Voyager was the only ship at the Space Center at that time.  The Odyssey was in the "planning" stage.  Everything that makes a Space Center mission today was in its infancy back then. This was even before we had uniforms. 
     Above you see one of Central's 4th grade classes on their Space Center in school field trip. The captain is seated in his command chair with his trusty first officer beside him. They sat on a raised platform at the back of the bridge overlooking the two lower sections and the main viewer.  
     I found this photo while I was posting pictures to my other Facebook page: Central School Memories.  For the last two years or so I've been posted the pages from Central Elementary School's history albums. The albums stretch back to the 1930s.  

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Sunday, March 13, 2022

Where or Where has the Voyager Gone? Tracking the Remains of the Once Mighty Starship. The Forgotten Flight Director's Oath. Imaginarium Theater

Where are the remains of the once mighty Starship Voyager, the ship that started them all?  That questions came to me yesterday after receiving a welcomed message from Jordan Osborn, a former Space Center staff member.  Jordan currently lives in Oregon, works for InfiniD on their content team, and is working towards an MBA degree at Willamette University.  

Jordan is the proud owner of the following piece of the Starship Voyager. 

The old timers out there will remember this sign from the Briefing Room entrance to the Voyager.

You can see the "Caution" sign above the Voyager's entrance in the picture above which was taken at the Odyssey's grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony in the early 1990's.  

Why the "Caution, Watch Overhead Clearance" sign?  When I built the Voyager onto Central School in 1990 I had to decide where to put the entrance. I wanted four entrances, two from the playground (upstairs and basement) and two from the school.  The entrance from the stage was a no brainer. It was the perfect place for a revolving door to provide that transition I was looking for.  I also wanted an entrance from the briefing room. 

Upon examining the exterior wall of the school, the engineer said that a doorway couldn't be put in the briefing room. There was a large cement support beam which ran along the wall - a beam that couldn't be cut.  I insisted on a door, even if it was too short (through the cinderblock and not the support beam).  The engineer agreed because the Voyager already met code by having the two exterior playground doors.  

The short door was installed. It was then the problems started.  Everyone walking up to the Voyager entrance saw the doorway was too short.  Most ducked.  What people didn't expect was the depth of the entrance.  People were ducking to go through but standing up too soon before they cleared the doorway.  I bumped my head multiple times; so did most staff of any height.  It was then I purchased the "Caution" sign.  People still bumped their heads, but the sign was there to remind them how careless they were to stand up too soon. 

Do you own a piece of the old Voyager?  If so, please send a photo ( to be included in future posts on this subject. Let's see how much of the Ship that Started Them All is left.

Thank you,

The Flight Director's Oath

     Many years ago I wrote an oath which was to be recited by all new flight directors when they received their silver microphone pin.  Both the oath and pin were forgotten in a "To Do" file during the remodelling closure of 2012. So today, for old times sake, here is that oath and pin design....

     "I pledge to honor the training and craftsmanship of the flight directors who trained me. I pledge to set a proper example of professionalism for my staff, volunteers, and crew. I promise to lead and guide my crews by adhering to the mission's goals and objectives as given to me by my Set Director.  I promise to honor the pioneering spirit of the first ship Voyager by continuing to learn and improve upon my craft - and will do so until I surrender my microphone to those who will follow".

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Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Troops Sit on the Porch with Papa Parker and Sip Lemonade After a Full Day of Safeguarding the Galaxy. Mr. Williamson's Request is Approved by the Magellan Council. Imaginarium Theater.


     It's late Saturday night. The swing shift is off duty.  The staff are gathered in the office for a good old fashion chinwag.  It isn't often the younger staff get to sit at the feet of an old veteran like Papa Parker and hear the tales of daring flight directors and courageous supervisors from times past.  
     "You think this has been a long day?"  I hear Jon reminise as she strokes his chin to find the right words.  "Try flying a full day's field trips, then a 4:00 P.M. private mission and then an overnight camp.  Now that's a day's work."  Around him I see wistful eyes of the youngling staff wondering if they have that same grit. 
     "And then there were the summer camps......." Jon settles more comfortably in his chair as he clears his throat to continue.  "We started with a staff meeting at 6:30 on the first night. After that we signed the campers in. After sign ins Mr. Williamson divided them into rotations and the first flight and classroom session started. We'd finish at 11:00 at night and meet in the cafeteria.  The campers and staff got ice cream before they got their sleeping assignments. Lights out was at 11:45. Think of having 42 to 60 young 10 to 14 year old campers that you were responsible for all night long. We just prayed they'd let us get some sleep."  
     "Did the staff stay overnight too?" someone asks.
     "Most did. I did for sure because Mr. Williamson had me chaperoning.  He slept on the floor in front of his desk and I slept on the Voyager bridge keeping an eye on 25 to 27 boys sleeping on the bunks and the bridge floor if there weren't enough bunks.  Everyone got up at 7 in the morning - then breakfast and back into the ships and classroom. Lunch was at noon then back to the ships until supper at 7:00 P.M.  After supper we walked them to the Pleasant Grove swimming pool to swim and shower.  We'd get back from the pool at 9:30.  Everybody met in the cafeteria with their sleeping bags to watch a Wallace and Gromit and a Star Trek episode before going to bed at 10:30. Some of the staff sold pop and candy in the hall to make some extra money. 
     The next morning the campers had breakfast then back to the ships and classroom. Lunch on the third day was the last meal. After lunch there was time for one more rotation before the campers met in the gym at 4:30 to fill out the surveys and vote for staff.  The camp ended at 5:00 P.M.  You want tired?  Try that schedule every week all summer long.  Now that's tired." 
     "How did you do it Papa Parker?  How did you do it?" a small voice asks over the hushed room.
     "Well, you just had to. You'd be surprised what you can do when you just have to."  Jon replies.  After a moment, a slight grin spreads across Jon's face. "Did I ever tell you guys about the time I burned all my "Get out of Jail Free" cards because of a smoke bomb?  Well, It all started one overnight camp..................."

The Magellan Coordinating Council Grants an Old Man's Wish 

     I'm pleased to announce that my sincere request to sign the Magellan's Control Room flag has been agreed to by the Magellan Coordinating Council.  The news was announced in a Facebook comment related to last week's Troubadour Post.  

     The permission included the certificate above - officially signed by Connor and Nicole.  While whimsical in appearance, the certificate carries the seriousness of rank and privilege.  With this certificate, I have the right to sit in the Magellan Control Room - Not as a guest - but as one of them.  I couldn't be more proud. I imagine myself sitting in the control room surrounded by some of the Space Center's best and brightest as they exchange playful, friendly, and teasing remarks back and forth waiting for my turn to insert a well constructed and rehearsed witticism.  Does life get any better?   

     Included with the certificate was this letter of worthiness to be used at any time in the future when future Magellanites doubt my credentials to sit with them to break bread. Also, this is the video proof Connor referred to in the letter above. 

     Thank you Connor and Nicole for this kind offer.  Connor, I shall wait to sign the flag until you return to oversee the investiture.  I want this done properly.  
     To almost correctly quote President Reagan, 

Ich bin ein Magellanite
(an extra donut or two to anyone who can tell me the significance) 

Mr. Williamson

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