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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Meet More of The Space Place's Young Astronauts and Voyagers. News from Utah Valley's Space EdVenture Centers and This Week's Imaginarium Theater


The 6th Grade Tiger Squadron's Official Launch Photo

The 6th Grade Tiger Squadron's "Let have some fun" photo 

     It has been a busy week at Renaissance Academy's The Space Place.  Every afternoon The Space Place staff and volunteers greet a new Young Astronaut or Voyager Club squadron for their first meeting of the school year.  There are over 200 students in the after school club this year. They are divided into squadrons of 7 to 10 members.  Each grade level has a Monday Cobra, Tuesday Dragon, Wednesday Lion, Thursday Scorpion, and Friday Tiger squadron.  

    Take a moment to meet the squadrons that launched last week.  Some did better at others at getting the Starship Voyager launched from Outpost 14.  One team accidentally fired a missile at the Outpost causing serious damage to both Outpost 14 and their team score for the day.  Ouch!       

The 5th Grade Scorpion Squadron

The 6th Grade Lion Squadron

The 6th Grade Lion Squadron wanted a photo showing how tough they are
to intimidate the other teams.  Is it working?

The 6th Grade Dragon Squadron

The 6th Grade Dragon Squadron decided to transition into a Piddlewee
pose to honor the great House Piddlewee of Uck in the Farpoint Universe.

The 5th Grade Cobra Squadron

The 5th Grade Cobra Squadron's tough guy photo.  Their thinking is that once the other 5th grade squads see this photo they'll know right from the beginning which
5th grade squadron will take the Best Team of the Year Award.

News and Update from Utah Valley's Space EdVenture Centers

American Heritage School's Creativity Lab / Space Center 

The Space Center at American Heritage School has the Galileo II, purchased from The Christa McAuliffe Space Center, nearly finished and ready for a test mission.  Alex DeBirk, the Center's Director, wrote:

Phase 2 of #ahscreativitylab includes a second simulator: the Old Bird, the Galileo from Yesterday's Christa McAuliffe Space Center. She's finally back to a single (mostly) piece after 2 long years in storage. And she's back on her own legs and rolling freely and easily. The students have been instrumental in putting her together. Excited to show how things progress this summer.

Alex DeBirk did a walk around video of the 
school's Discovery simulator

Alpine School District's Christa McAuliffe Space Center 

Engagements at the CMSC
James Porter wrote: Congratulations to our wonderful friends who decided to include us in the proposal process. Figured it was safe to share now that we got the official invite. We've had two proposals at the Space Center over the last couple months! Wishing both wonderful couples all the best. Guess we better dust off our fancy uniforms and see if we can still squeeze into them for the events.

Night Out with the Stars at the CMSC

     On September 3rd the Christa McAuliffe Space Center hosted a star party on Central Elementary School's playground in Pleasant Grove. The public was invited to come with their own telescopes or they could see the sights with the CMSC's telescope.  

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

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Hello to a New Class of Voyager Cadets and Young Astronauts at Renaissance Academy. Want to Hear Happy Birthday Sung in the Languages of the Galactic Diaspora? The Imaginarium Theater.


     Monday was the launch of the 2022-2023 Voyager and Young Astronaut Clubs at The Space Place located at Renaissance Academy, a public charter school in Lehi, Utah.
Today's post introduces you to the squadrons who met this week.

The 6th Grade Cobra Squadron.  2022-2023

     Over 200 Renaissance Academy third through ninth grade students joined the after school program.  That is 25% of the school's 800 students.  The club's enrollment fee of $125.00 covers 8 months of meetings, missions in the Voyager Starship Simulator, and a club t-shirt.  Club members are referred to as cadets.  Cadets in grades 3 to 5 are in the Young Astronauts.  Cadets in grades 6 - 9 are in the Voyagers. 

The Middle School Dragon Squadron

     The cadets are placed in squadrons of 7 - 10 students.  The squadrons meets once a month on average. This year's curriculum includes astronomy, space history, current events in space, and of course the humanities included in the starship long duration mission (LDM). Each grade level has a different LDM.  The missions last 8 months.  

The Sixth Grade Scorpion Squadron

       I direct the classroom portion of the meetings.  Bracken Funk is the simulations director.  Our great group of Renaissance Academy student volunteers help Bracken in the Voyager.    

The Middle School Tiger Squadron

    This week's launch scores are on the low side.  Only two squads succeeded in completing all launch tasks within the allocated time to receive full points.  The cadets are getting their space legs under them. They always improve over the year as they learn to work together as a team and communicate effectively.  
Want to Hear Happy Birthday Sung in Alien Tongue?  

Mr. Funk Leads The Space Place's Staff and Volunteers in 
Singing Happy Birthday in the languages of the Galactic Diaspora last Saturday

     You're in for a real treat if you book your birthday party at The Space Place at Renaissance Academy. Mr. Funk started a tradition a few years ago where the birthday boy or girl is serenaded by the staff and volunteers.  They sing the usual "Happy Birthday to You" in the languages of the Galactic Diaspora.  The Galactic Diaspora is an element of the Farpoint Universe used at The Space Place, The Space Center at American Heritage School, and the Discovery Space Center at Telos Academy.  To the untrained ear, it all sounds like a bunch of gobbledegook, but quite hilarious for the party.  
     The Space Place offers a fantastic Google 5 Star birthday party experience.  Contact Mr. Funk for more information.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Galileo II is Back and is Being Reassembled at American Heritage School's Starship Shipyards. The Galileos Over Time... The Imaginarium Theater.

 Hi Victor, 

I thought you might like to see these photos of the process of getting the Galileo together. Turns out when we put it together we thought all the pieces loaded from the back not from the front! So some of the pictures are us trying to put it together from the back, all of which we had to undo and redo properly from the front. It was quite a bit of tetrising to figure out how to get all of the pieces to the far side of the room so they could load front to back on the frame. But all is together now!

Admiral Alex Debirk

American Heritage School Shipyards

American Heritage High Schoolers Giving the Ship a Good Polish

Facing the back of the room.  They got the ship turned so the nose
of the ship is facing the back wall. You enter the Galileo from the back so the back of the ship had to be at the front of the classroom near the hallway door. 

Getting it turned around

And there it, Nearly Assembled

     The Galileo will fly again once the electronics are installed. It sits in a room next to the Starship Discovery at American Heritage School in American Fork, Utah.  Welcome back Galileo II.

The Three Galileo Starships Over the Years

1999-2009.  Central School Cafeteria

2009 - 2020 .  Central School Cafeteria
2022 - American Heritage School

The New Galileo at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center
2021 - Present

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

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Starships Odyssey and Magellan Have New Set Directors: Introducing Mitch and Tyler. American Heritage School's Space Center Gearing Up for a New Academic Season. Imaginarium Theater


Natalie and Connor

     As you read in an earlier Troubadour post, the Christa McAuliffe Space Center bade farewell to Natalie Anderson and Connor Larsen at the end of the summer camp season.  Natalie was the Odyssey's Set Director, Conner was the Magellan's.  Both have retired to pursue life planetside.  Natalie will continue to work as a published author (prepare yourself JK Rowling for the new generation).  Connor will continue his organ studies with the final goal of living in a crumbling castle fortress in the depths of the Black Forest where he can play the organ with such music as to frighten even the ghosts away.  Word has it he is even practicing his sinister laugh.
     With their departure, Mr. James Porter was tasked with appointing replacements.  A extensive search was undertaken from one corner of the Space Center to the other as he looked for the perfect candidates; and after serious consideration, the decision was made. 

Mitch Foote:  Odyssey


     Mitch Foote is the new Odyssey Set Director.  By tradition the Odyssey simulator's microphone was to be handed to Mitch by Natalie in a somber and reflective ceremony held in the presence of the Guild of Former Odyssey Set Directors.  Sadly, Natalie and the Guild were unable to attend so Mr. Porter stood in by proxy for Natalie.  Natalie was present in spirit and by photograph - displayed on the Planetarium screen.

Natalie offering the Odyssey's microphone to Mitch

Mr. Porter was Natalie by proxy

     Mitch is a new kind of set director.  Most Set Directors work at the Space Center until they graduate from university and leave when they enter a profession. Mitch, on the other hand, is already established in a profession (computers) and works at the CMSC as a second job. It is his passion for the Space Center's mission that attracted him to the Center as a volunteer just a few years back and kept him there.  With Mitch at the helm, the Odyssey will be in good hands.  And with that said, Natalie can rest knowing she trained a good replacement.  

Tyler Gotcher: Magellan

     Tyler Gotcher is the Magellan's new Set Director.  Tyler started as a volunteer over 5 years ago as a youngling junior high student and found a home away from home in the Magellan. Since then it was one promotion after another until he was nipping at Connor Larsen's heals.  "I feel that kid breathing down my neck," Connor was heard to say in a water fountain conversation (if my memory can be counted on as reliable :)  "I think he wants my job." 
     Conner, your premonition came true.  He has your job.   

Tyler accepting the Magellan's Microphone from Conner
Yes, I had to do a bit of editing

     The Magellan will be in great hands because Tyler learned the trade by working with the best;  Nicole Vandenbos, Conner Larsen, and Jake and Lissa Hadfield.  I don't want to forget Jon Parker, he steps into the Magellan from time to time when the need is great. 
     Congratulations to Mitch and Tyler.  May your stories be true, may the wind be at your backs, may the road rise up to greet you, may the magic of subspace fields shorten every journey and may your staff remember the favors you are owed, may the solar winds of fortune sail you in gentle space, and may it always be the other guy who says this Romulan ale is on me, may luck be a friend and trouble a stranger, may you live as long as you want but never want as long as you live, and may good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.   
     And so say we all...
     Oh, and may Fortuna never know your working schedule...

American Heritage School's Space Center Gearing Up for a New Academic Season.

Alex DeBirk showing me the newly built FD computers

     Alex DeBirk is the director of Space Center at American Heritage School in American Fork.  Last Thursday I stopped by the school to visit Alex and get an update on the Center's start to the new school year.  I met Alex in the hallway outside the Center. He had just come from a meeting with another teacher. They were outlining new missions for the year.
     Our first stop of was the Creativity Lab.  Alex's responsibilities changed over the summer.  A new teacher was hired to oversee the Lab thus freeing Alex to focus all his efforts on his physics classes, space tech classes, and his in school Young Astronaut program for students in grades 5 and up. 
The new Creativity Lab at American Heritage School

The new Creativity Lab at American Heritage School

The new Creativity Lab at American Heritage School

3D printing

     The school's Creativity Lab is the where the imagineering takes place. Alex tells the lab's instructor what he needs for the simulators and the lab's students do the planning, designing, and creating.  It is the perfect partnership.  

An Entrance / Exit of the Starship Discovery

The Discovery's Bridge

     Our next stop was the Starship Discovery.  I was surprised to see the ship in a state of repair.  Alex explained that improvements were being made to the ship along with a few new additions to equipment.  The Discovery won't open until January.  Once the ship opens for the school year, Alex will begin the in school Young Astronaut (YA) program for the school's students in grades 5 - 12.  The YA program is held during the school day. Students come to the Center with their teachers on an in school field trip - very much like the model used at the Lion's Gate Center at Lakeview Academy.      

     The next stop was the Galileo Room.  Alex would like to put the ship back together and get it running but is having problems with the fire marshall.  The fire marshall wants a full fire suppression system installed connected to the school's system. That means a sprinklers in the ship, which leads to variety of other problems.  "We will get it figured out," Alex said "although it may take some time."  

The front of the Galileo

     The Galileo and Discovery will have side by side control areas. Yes, that means two flight directors sitting side by side in the same room.  

The two flight director stations for the Galileo and Discovery side by side.

     Alex asked if such a thing had been tried before.  "It has," I answered. "We had side by side flight directors at the iWorld's Space Center in Murray back in the day.  It can work but it isn't ideal. The flight directors wore headphones to hear their ships meaning no one else sitting with them could hear anything unless you were plugged into the audio system yourself." 
     "Well, it will have to work because this is the only place I can put the flight directors," Alex replied.

The Galileo's old torpedo/probe equipment units

        Alex is bringing back the Galileo's torpedoes / probes.  They will be repurposing the original equipment and the Creativity Lab will make new equipment.
     Alex's Space Tech classes are a hit at the school. Alex has high school students broken into 4 guilds:  story writing, programming, animating, and flight directing.  They are working on several projects. I'll be writing a few missions for them to be animated by the guild.  
     The Space Center at American Heritage is moving ahead warp speed with its programs. The current space center will be dismantled in a few years and will be moved into a floor of its own in the school's new high school building soon to start construction on the large field just north of the current building.  Alex will be one busy center director for the foreseeable future.  

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