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

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Telos Discovery Space Center Update. The Galileo at American Heritage is Coming Together. The Picture that Kept Me Centered

The Telos Discovery Space Center is part of Telos U in Vineyard, Utah.  TDSC was started by Dr. Ryan Anderson. As a teenager, Dr. Anderson volunteered with me in the original Starship Voyager in the 1990's.  That's where he caught the "Space Center" bug. He grew up, went on to university, graduated with his doctorate degree and has several letters behind his name, some of which I've no clue what they mean but I'm absolutely impressed.  

Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., LMFT, MedFT
Co-founder, Telos U
Executive Director, Telos Discovery Space Center.
Advisor, Dimension X

Ryan has been a good friend to the Space EdVenturing community by supporting our work at The Space Place and working with James Porter on Dimension X - a new system of ship controls to take us into the 23rd century.

I asked Ryan to write a Troubadour post updating us on the innovative work he and his staff are doing on the Starship Hyperion at Telos.  

The Hyperion, Telos Discovery Space Center

The Hyperion is unique amongst Utah County's 15 starship simulators in that most of its missions are developed to go hand in hand with Dr. Anderson's pioneering work in blending immersive education (Hyperion) with the therapeutic work he does with Telos U's student body.   I think we may need to schedule a Voyager Club experience aboard the Hyperion for our cadets.

Ad Astra!
Mr. Williamson

And Now, Dr. Anderson's Update  


Telos Discover Space Center Update

By Dr. Ryan Anderson

Interweaving second stories with auxiliary timelines. 

Since we tend to work mostly with young adults in our LDM program, we have been continuing to find ways to add a variety of layers to our missions to help keep everyone meaningfully engaged, rather than just busy. As a part of that, we have really been expanding our use of auxiliary timelines. Alex--the creator of Thorium--had excellent foresight in allowing multiple auxiliary timelines to be run in a single mission. So, that allows us to have specific side stories running that are coordinated with the main mission but which proceed at their own pace.

With that, we have created a fairly large number of detailed second stories for Engineering, Security, Science, Medical, and Counterintelligence that go beyond the old favorites of "there's a bomb on the ship" or "a fight broke out in the mess hall," although we still enjoy using those, as well. 

This has allowed us to focus on helping our participants have experiences with a variety of skills such as management, public health measures, auditing (it's more fun than it sounds like!), human resources, and more realistic cyber security issues. 

Easter eggs galore!

I have a bit of a penchant for including Easter Eggs without ruining immersion. So, if you come for a mission on the Hyperion, you will find a wide variety of references to science, art, fantasy, and science fiction. We also have a lot of nods to little details from the original Voyager that long-time Space Center fans might pick  up on. For example, you will notice that in a lot of our visuals, I include a slight rotation of the ship as we approach our destination. This is an homage to one of Victor's classic rotating star fields that was used as a traveling animation on the original Voyager.

I've also tied in a few Easter Eggs for today's generation. For example, fans of the Space Center classic mission "Supernova" will be familiar with Dr. Jenkins and his (spoiler alert) decision to go charging in haphazardly into a tense situation and making it escalate into a crisis. At the Telos Discovery Space Center, we decided to give Dr. Jenkins a first name: Leeroy. Victor probably had no idea how precient his mission was for something that has become a timeless internet meme. And if you need an explanation of Leeroy Jenkins, follow this link

Improving our visuals. 

In addition, while we are excited about the development of next generations controls, we are continuing to build upon the visuals that we use, since they can be a big part of our storytelling.

Here are some links to some scenes created with our current level of ability in Unity: 

* Vopox pirates attack:
* Earth orbit loop:
* Earth orbit departure:
* Magnum fighter launch:
* USS Hyperion beauty shot:
* Viper Cartel Corsair disabled:

Little by Little the Galileo is Coming Together at American Heritage's Space Center

I paid Alex DeBirk a visit on Monday to get an update on American Heritage's Space Center and his pioneering work on integrating the magic of simulator based immersive education in a K-12th grade setting.  He had a lot to show me, and when all was said and done, I left feeling sorry for him.  I don't think Alex has had a good night's sleep in at least a year.  Between his family, his work as the school's physics teacher, and his job as the director of the school's space program he rarely has a minute for himself.  I was exhausted for him after hearing everything he has planned for his program.  

The Galileo

The one thing I want to highlight today is the work he and his students are doing to get the Galileo II back up and running.  The Galileo II is the 2nd of 3 Starship Galileo's.  The Christa McAuliffe Space Center sold the Galileo to American Heritage when the original Space Center closed to make the move into the new center. 

The Galileo is back up on his wheeled frame and together (for the most part).  The electrical work is the one thing slowing them down. Alex needs a licensed electrician to do the work and finding one is not an easy task with all the construction in Utah County.  Waiting on the electrical work doesn't stop them from doing the other work required to fly the Galileo once again. 

Pictured above is the Galileo's torpedo / probe launch bay. Alex and team are restoring it to its original glory and functionality.    

Alex's high school students are restoring the torpedos and probes like the one above. Students build the equipment, install the equipment into the casing, and launch the unit into space via the launch bay.  Pretty cool, right?  

Alex and team are building a tunnel / hatchway from the ship's medical bunks into the simulator's hallway.  Sitting on the tunnel will be the ship's engineering station using the Voyager I's engineering desk complete with isolineer chips!   

The starship's crew will use the Voyager I's engineering station ladder to get to the station.  It warms this old man's heart to see so much of the first Space Center being used today at  American Heritage School.  

I'll keep you updated on all developments, but for now, let's take a moment to appreciate the good work so many people are doing at Utah County's 6 Space Centers in creating a space faring civilization.

Mr. Williamson    

The Picture that Helps Me Stay Centered and Keep Things In Perspective 

This picture sat at my desk right under my eyes for most of my tenure as Space Center Director.  

This picture is called "Migrant Mother". It is a photograph taken in 1936 in Nipomo, California by American photographer Dorothea Lange.

It depicts a mother looking off into the distance with two of her children at her sides and an infant in her lap. Her children's faces are not shown as the children both bury their faces in their mother's shoulders. Since then, the photograph has become an icon of the Great Depression. 


When those bad days came, when the staff drove me crazy, when the campers were too hyper, when trying to keep the Space Center afloat and progressing, when I was exhausted from putting in over 100 hours a week work in the summers with the camps etc. I would glance down at this photo. It reminded me that even though I was having a bad day or two, I needed to put my "bad day" into perspective.  My "bad day" was nothing compared to what this poor migrant mother was facing on the road during the great depression.  

A minute or so with "Migrant Mother" and I would be ready to soldier on and get the job done.  What do you use to recenter yourself when you're having one of those days?  

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Sunday, February 19, 2023

Always on the Hunt for Those Gadgets That Add Realism to Our Starship Missions. Meet Dimension X, New Partners with the CMSC. This Week's Imaginarium Theater

Space EdVenturer are always on the hunt for gadgets and props to outfit our simulators.  Recently I found a few cool pieces on Amazon that caught attention.  While made for other purposes, these gadgets will make cool additions to the Starship Voyager at The Space Place.

The Wall of Light

This beauty jumped right off the page and into my Amazon cart. I call it the Wall of Light.  This small gadget is blindingly bright and comes with a phone app that allows for a gazillion different colors and patters.  I'm thinking of lighting up an entire gym with alien landing party colors, or perhaps a semi darkened hallway.   

The Medical Scanner

After looking at this product, how could you go back to just using the Star Trek tricorder? Think of the endless possibilities this prop could be used for.  

Improving our starship simulators so our students and patrons have a more realistic experience is what we do. And that is just what I found Bracken Funk, The Space Place Director, doing last Friday. He was working with Renaissance Academy's IT tech on the installation of a new powerful core computer for the Starship Voyager.  This computer will easily display two tactical screen inputs on the same main viewer without video delay.  

They were also looking at programmable theater spotlights to add that extra something in the ship's lighting.  

We sure have a lot of fun at The Space Place with our Starship Voyager and our 220 Young Astronauts and Voyager club members.  You'll need to come by and visit us sometime.

These are the People Working With The Christa McAuliffe Space Center on Exciting New Controls and Visuals.  

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

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Laser Show Demonstration at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. Imainarium Theater

James Porter and Dad Perry in the Crow's Nest

     For me, Saturday mornings start at Renaissance Academy's The Space Place for the 8:30 A.M. Coding Club.  Afterwords it's off to the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove where I'm working hard to fill Tabitha Rick's shoes as the Center's new Outreach Coordinator.  Tabitha was so good at her job that the learning curve I'm facing seems, at times, overwhelming.  Thankfully Tabitha is always one phone call away and ready to help.  Occasionally her husband Matt will answer the phone as the Space Center's Help Line located in New Delhi, India (he has a convincing accent). 
     I had an 11:00 A.M. meeting with James Porter, the Center's director, to discuss a few upcoming department items. Afterwards, James invited me into the planetarium to watch a demo of the Space Center's upcoming laser show.  I finished the call with Tabitha, entered the planetarium, and found James and his dad Perry in the crow's nest (planetarium controls) polishing up an item or two.  
     With my Troubadour reporter's hat on, I had my phone out ready to record bits and pieces of the show and wow - it was better than I expected.  The lasers are brilliantly bright, the planetarium's sound system is perfect for rock music, and the smoke machines kept the room smoky enough for the lasers but not London fog smokey.  Getting motion sick was another of my concerns but that didn't happen either.  It was a fantastic show. I don't think Pleasant Grove understands how lucky it is to have this state of the art planetarium.  
     I took bits of my records and put them together to make a short video of my experience.  COPYRIGHT NOTICE: I removed the soundtrack to the video as requested. The Space Center is finalizing the licensing fee.  Instead I found a royalty free piece of rock music to add to the video for fun's sake.  


Watch for more Laser Show news on this blog or visit the Space Center's Facebook Page for details.  

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Sunday, February 5, 2023

I Stand Amazed at What InfiniD Has Done. Imaginarium Theater


     I have nothing but praise to bestow on InfiniD Learning today.  In fact, this post will be a written testament to the genius of Skyler Carr, Casey Voeks, and everyone involved in the imagineering of their missions.  The reason for my praise is something that happened last Friday.  Let me tell an abbreviated version of the story. 

     Due to an error on my part, I left two of our Young Astronaut squadrons short their third mission / class rotation.  I occasionally make scheduling mistakes when mapping out dates and times to get all our 23 Young Astronaut and Voyager Club squadrons fitted out with their 8 meetings for the school year.  And because of one of those errors, I needed to have one team do a flight session and another team do a class session on the same day.  That's a no-no, due to the fact that I can't be in two different places at the same time. My solution was something we'd never tried before.  

     I scheduled the two squadrons for last Friday.  The 5th grade flight team and the 4th grade class / flight team met in my room at 12:45 P.M. I got the 5th grade team ready to start their mission and turned them over to Bracken.  The 4th graders had their meeting extended to 3 hours instead of two.  Their first two hours would be spent with me in the classroom while the 5th grade team flew their mission.  They'd enter the Voyager for their 1 hour mission when the 5th graders went home. I needed to come up with an extra hour of curriculum.  My solution was to have them do an InfiniD mission for the first hour before teaching them my prepared hour long astronomy lesson reserved for their 4th round.  

     I've never seen or supervised an InfiniD mission.  I've seen bits and pieces here and there but never sat in on a whole flight.  My sixth grade teaching partner does InfiniD as part of our science curriculum.  Friday was my first InfiniD rodeo.  I brought in the light cart, pulled up my preassigned mission, had the kids log in, pulled the window blinds, shut off the classroom lights and started the mission.  What I saw amazed me.  

     My 4th Grade Tiger Squadron was into the flight from the start.  I thought they'd be a hard sell considering they fly in the Voyager on a regular basis, but I was dead wrong.  They were 100% immersed in the mission to Mars.  I didn't have a thing to do but watch and be amazed at the amount of learning taking place. 

     What impressed me the most was the cooperation and communication the mission brought out in the cadets.  There were some heavy debates on action items and a few mission failures along the way.  In fact, that InfiniD mission had my cadets just as involved in this mission as they would be on the bridge of the Voyager.  In fact, they were so immersed and involved I'm beginning to consider implementing aspects of an InfiniD mission into the way we run missions in our brick and mortar ship.  It was amazing! 

     I'm gong to implement InfiniD missions into our Young Astronaut  and Voyager clubs for the cadet's 6th classroom round coming up in a month.  The program will from now one be an integral part of our club.  I just need to coordinate with our cadet's classroom teachers so we're not doing duplicate missions.

     InfiniD team, you've taken my dream of a classroom simulator from the early 1980's and made it real. You've found a way to take the mission magic worldwide.  My hat is off to what you've accomplished and I'm proud to be the voice of your computer.  



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