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

Sunday, May 28, 2023

And With the Bell, I Finished 40 Years as an Educator. How Things Have Changed Since 1983, A Report on the May Meeting of the Voyager Club at the Space Center. Imaginarium Theater.


           And that's 40 years in education.  Left, my first class 1983. Right my students from this year.

And with Renaissance Academy's 10:00 A.M. bell on Friday, I finished my 40th year in education.  Forty years...... wow that makes me sound and feel old, but it has been a rewarding career with many challenges.

Reflecting on the Past:

The year was 1983 when I stepped into the classroom for the very first time. It was a time when technology had not yet woven its way into the fabric of education. Chalkboards and textbooks were the primary teaching tools, and student research involved trips to the library and encyclopedias. Teachers relied heavily on their knowledge and creativity to deliver lessons. We didn't have a photocopy machine in the school but we did have the purple mimeograph machines and overhead projectors.

School Technology 1983. What I Used at Central Elementary

overhead projector and mimeograph machine

Filmstrip Projector and Movie Projector

Record player and TV on a cart

The Classroom: Then and Now:

Over the last 40 years, education has undergone a revolution, transforming classrooms into dynamic and tech-savvy environments. The blackboard has given way to interactive whiteboards, projectors, and digital displays, bringing the world into the classroom with a single click. Teachers now have access to an extensive array of educational resources, virtual simulations, and multimedia tools, allowing them to create immersive learning experiences.

Collaboration and Communication:

When I started teaching, collaboration between educators often took place at the school level. Today email and online platforms now enable instant communication and facilitate the sharing of ideas, resources, and best practices.

Personalized Learning:

One of the most significant changes I've seen is the shift towards personalized learning through the use of computers and how the internet has given the world to today's students at the click of a few keys. It is amazing!

It was and still is the students who've kept me in the classroom. You must love working with young people if you want to survive in education, but there is more. You must also love your curriculum and learning itself.

The best decision I ever made was the day I walked into the administration building at BYU in 1980 and switched my major from business to education. I've never looked back.

I'd like to teach a few more years if my health holds out. A teacher should retire once they realize their age, health, or temperament is running out of gas. I'm watching the meter every day I step in front of a class. The students will get my best, and if that is no longer a doable thing, then I'll know to take one final bow and hand my chalk to a teacher who can give the kids 100%. Until then, let's take out our books and turn to page 214. It's time to calculate the volume of triangular prisms :)

Mr. Williamson

The Voyagers Meet for their May Voyager Club Meeting

Jason Trump gave the keynote presentation. This month's topic, The Sun.
Jason did a fantastic job blending both ancient and current knowledge of the sun. Everyone walked away knowing a lot more than they did before the meeting started

The Voyager Club is a community of space enthusiasts aged 12 and above. We gathered for our May meeting at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center yesterday. The club's mission is to ignite curiosity and promote space exploration, the club fosters a love for the cosmos and aims to cultivate a space-faring civilization.

Early Morning Excitement:

The May meeting of the Voyager Club kicked off at 8:00 A.M., with an exciting few games of bingo. Scott Wiltbank emerged as the fortunate winner of the first round and selected a StarBucks gift card as his prize. Bingo is a great way to encourage our young Voyager cadets to come early to the meeting so everyone is seated by the time the meeting starts at 8:30 A.M.

A Warm Welcome and Introductions:

At 8:30 A.M., the actual meeting was called to order, with Aiden, the club's dedicated president, extending a warm welcome to all attendees. Expressing gratitude for their presence, Aiden acknowledged the enthusiasm and passion that unites the Voyager Club. The meeting began by introducing new club members, referred to as Voyager Explorers. These individuals have the privilege of participating in all club activities except volunteering in the spaceship simulators, an experience reserved for Voyager Volunteers.

It was nearly standing room only. There were Voyager Explorers, Voyager Volunteers, and Voyager Staff in attendance. The Voyager Staff are the club's members who work as employees of the Space Center

Department Showcasing and Achievements:

To celebrate the club's collective accomplishments, I invited department heads to highlight their achievements from the previous month. Each department took a turn to showcase their contributions and engage the members in their respective areas of expertise.

Hayden talking about the club's Media Department. "Don't keep your eyes down, look up! Imagine what wonders you could create in the Media Department!"

Tyler W., representing the Acting Department, skillfully captivated the audience with his commanding voice and sliceable enthusiasm for what the acting department does to contribute to the Space Center's mission. Hayden, from the Media Department, provided insight into the fascinating world of space-related media projects undertaken by the club. Brylee, speaking as the head of the Writing Department, talked about the department's goals for the future. Finally, I briefly discussed the engineering department's contributions

Hopefully the department showcases will motivate more of our cadets to get more deeply involved in Space Center operations and productions.

Astronomy and Ancient Observations:

The highlight of the meeting was the captivating presentation by Jason Trump, an esteemed member of the Voyager Academy's education staff. Jason, an accomplished space educator, shared his knowledge and passion for the sun, its various components, and the fascinating ways ancient civilizations in the Americas recorded solar events on rock. The cadets were engaged as Jason introduced them to native American astronomical wisdom and the extraordinary connection between humanity and the cosmos. Jason ended his lesson by talking about his current project called PUNCH. He and his team are creating four suitcase sized satellites to be launched soon. The PUNCH satellites will study the sun.

Team Building and Collaboration:

Club President Aiden working with one table of cadets during the team building exercise

Recognizing the importance of unity and collaboration, Aiden and Michael led an engaging team-building exercise for those cadets who could stay an extra 15 minutes after the official club meeting ended. As usual, we have too much to do and no time to do it in our club meetings :) The members participated in a round-robin story creation activity, fostering creativity, cooperation, and camaraderie among the attendees. The experience not only enhanced their storytelling skills but also deepened their connection as a unified space-loving community.

Michael working with the other table. Michael is the club's vice president

A Memorable Gathering:

The May meeting of the Voyager Club at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center proved to be an exceptional and memorable event. We had 36 in attendance which was pretty good considering it is the Memorial Day weekend. We even had four visitors from the Farpoint Voyager Club headquartered at The Space Place at Renaissance Academy.

The Voyager cadets are committed to promote space education, exploration, and collaboration. The meeting exemplified the club's mission to excite people about space and cultivate a space-faring civilization. The Voyager Club continues to inspire and empower individuals, igniting a love for the cosmos and fostering a brighter future in space exploration.

A Special Thank You to Jade Hansen

We want to thank Jade Hansen for contributing the grand prize for the end of meeting prize drawing. Each cadet was given a ticket for the drawing. This month's prize was a tablet computer.

Jade is a long time supporter of the Space Center. He squeezes Space Center time in between his duties as a dad and husband, his "real" day job in hi-tech, and his work with the Engineering Department. And let's not forget that Jade also works as a supervisor in the Cassini simulator.

Imaginarium Theater

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Remembering Jackson Miller, One of Our Voyagers and Volunteers. Thoughts at the End of the School Year and Honoring Our Volunteers. Imaginarium Theater

Jackson (left) as the ship's doctor. He volunteered whenever he could during his cancer treatment

Jackson Miller passed away fifteen years ago on May 20, 2008.  Jackson loved the Space Center as a camper and then as a volunteer and Voyager.  

I've seen hundreds and hundreds of young Space Center volunteers come and go over the last 32 years and am always grateful for their dedication to the program and its mission.  If you remember Jackson, then please take a moment to celebrate his life and the joy he gave to you.

Mr. Williamson

This was The Troubadour post on the week of his death. 

Jackson (center) getting his sugar after a Magellan mission.

My Thoughts and Thanks as the School Year Ends and the Summer Space Camp Season Starts

Dear Staff and Volunteers of All Utah Valley's Space Centers,

Our long school year journey is drawing to an end. It has been quite a trek. We worked many missions. We taught many classes. We can look back with satisfaction on a job well done.  

I'm pleased to work with the finest people in Utah County. Each of you bring a unique perspective to your work. You flavor the Center with your personality and enrich the lives of our students. Your dedication and willingness to extend yourself and go that little bit extra has made the difference between success and mediocrity.

We are unusual troubadours. We perform for our audiences without their acknowledgment. We create magic without their applause. We are the makers of smiles. Using our voices as wands, we take our students and visitors on fantastic magical voyages through the cosmos bringing them to a better understanding of themselves and the universe.

We sit at the back of our starships manning the rudder. We do all this unseen, for if we stood for recognition, some of the essence of the experience would be lost. So we hide behind our walls - surrounding our passengers with sound and lights and music and story. I acknowledge your work. I appreciate your efforts. I applaud your talent.

Some day when the history of space travel is written, I hope a there is a small paragraph telling of a place in Utah that, long ago, inspired children to take their eyes off the ground and look far into the distance to see what could be.

Imagination is our fuel and Wonder is our language. So troubadours...... we sit together around the campfire and plan our next campaign. There is a summer ahead and more children counting the days to their EdVenture. Let's sleep for a bit and rise refreshed. There is more to do.

Mr. Williamson

Imaginarium Theater

Videos From Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience

Sunday, May 14, 2023

The Perikoi Learn Science at American Heritage School. Come See a Laser Show in the Planetarium. Two Promotions to Celebrate. Imaginarium Theater

The Happy Perikoi About to Get Their First Science Lessons

The tale of the Children of Perikoi is told often at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove as part of the center's field trip program. This year, the mission was also flown on the Starship Discovery at American Heritage School in American Fork. The AHS students did the mission as an LDM (Long Duration Mission) covering half a school year. They visit their school's USS Discovery during the school day with their classmate and teachers. Alex DeBirk directs the flights and is assisted by the school's high school students.

Alex ended their LDM recently. The students successfully drove the "gods" away from the planet and are now slowly and carefully introducing science to the population.

Alex and team had a brilliant idea to integrate the end of the mission with the school's science fair. The younger students who did the mission, set up their science fair displays and invited the "children of Perikoi" (played by the school's middle and high school students) to come to the fair and learn the science the "gods" had forbidden them to learn for hundreds of years.

The older students came dressed as Perikoi

The younger students took them through the fair exhibit by exhibit teaching them the wonders of their planet and of the universe around them.

The people of Perikoi, once trapped in a primitive existence, now embarked on an accelerated journey of learning the wonders of the universe.

Today, the people of Perikoi, guided by their newfound mentors, embrace the teachings of science with an insatiable curiosity. Their world, once veiled in ignorance and superstition, now shines with the promise of progress and enlightenment. The tale of Perikoi stands as a testament to the transformative power of knowledge and the extraordinary possibilities that lie within the uncharted depths of the cosmos.

Laser Shows in the Planetarium. Come Rock with Us!

Laser shows have been added our list of family-friendly activities available to anyone. Tickets are only $7.
“When we first opened the planetarium we had so many people excited to have this amazing resource available locally.” explains James Porter, Director of the Space Center. “The next question that invariably came up was, when are you getting laser shows?” It became apparent that many in the community had experienced some of the great Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and other laser shows offered at other planetariums and they were excited to see something available locally. Letting your mind drift along while hundreds of laser beams dance above your head in complex patterns and sequences leaves a long lasting impression. It’s no wonder why so many have vivid and fond memories attending similar shows that are available around the world.
The lasers and associated equipment came to the Space Center thanks to generous donations from employees at Entrata. After James’ older brother Stephen Porter passed away unexpectedly in 2021, his co-workers came forward and wanted to give support. Stephen had taken many groups to the Space Center for team-building flights in the simulators and they knew that he volunteered his time there as well. “When they told me they wanted to donate to the Space Center in Stephen’s memory I was floored.” James shared, “The next day the idea came to me to look into laser shows. It would allow us to offer a new experience to the community and carry on Stephen’s love of music in his memory.”
Over the next 18 months the equipment was purchased, licenses acquired, and programming of the shows commenced. The first show available is a collection of 80's rock classics ranging from Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" to Journey's "Separate Ways". Principal Ryan Wells describes, “We wanted something that hits that rock connection with what’s expected at a laser show, while still having a selection of familiar songs that families can enjoy. A lot of groups come for a show and then go get a cupcake or ice cream at a local shop. It’s nice seeing another great activity available in our area.” The laser shows are 50 minutes long and are currently available on Friday and Saturday evenings.

So whether you are firing fictional starship phasers in the simulators or being entranced in the planetarium with rock and laser lights; the Space Center is something unique you want to check out. For more information visit and reserve your next adventure.

Two Promotions to Celebrate.  Sam Earns his Royal Blues and Hyrum, Nearly Forgotten for One Year, Earns the Recognition He Deserves. 

Hyrum Sassar

Let's start with Hyrum Sassar.  The Troubadour owes Hyrum an apology for failing to announce his promotion to Cassini Flight Directorship and the awarding of his Navy Blues signifying his new rank and position in Space Center society.  

Hyrum, pleased with The Troubadour's formal apology, shows how smart he looks in his Navy Blues

His elevation occurred last June.  How did The Troubadour miss this major announcement?  The answer is simple - negligence on the part of the blog's editor, Mr. Williamson.  Mr. Williamson is getting older and more forgetful and certain things slip off his radar - which is why it is imperative that the space edventure community keep him informed of all news of interest.  

In hopes of being forgiven, Mr. Williamson wrote the following letter to Hyrum.

Dear Hyrum,

I write to you with a heart burdened by remorse and an overwhelming sense of regret. It has come to my attention, albeit belatedly, that I failed to publicly congratulate you on your well-deserved promotion to Flight Director on the Starship Cassini on The Troubadour Blog. Please accept my deepest and sincerest apologies for this unforgivable oversight.

The magnitude of my mistake is not lost on me, and I fully recognize that no one should have to endure such a disregard for their accomplishments. You have worked tirelessly, displaying unwavering dedication and exceptional skill in your role. Your promotion to Flight Director is a testament to your outstanding abilities and the respect you have garnered from your peers.

It pains me to admit that this oversight has persisted for nearly a year, amplifying the depth of my negligence. The time that has passed only highlights the severity of my failure to honor your achievements publicly. I can only imagine the disappointment and hurt that my inaction may have caused you, and for that, I am truly sorry.

With a humble heart and sincere remorse, I beseech you to find it within yourself to grant me forgiveness. I understand that it will take time for you to process and consider my apology, and I am prepared to wait patiently for your response. I will make every effort to rectify my mistake and ensure that such an oversight never occurs again.

Hyrum, please know that I hold the utmost respect for you and your accomplishments. Your promotion to Flight Director on the Starship Cassini is a momentous achievement, and you deserve to be celebrated and acknowledged.

Once again, I extend my sincerest apologies, hoping that you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Should you grant me the opportunity, I vow to rectify this situation and demonstrate my genuine appreciation for your contributions and accomplishments.

With deepest regrets,

Mr. Williamson

OK, Hyrum, that should do the trick. Enough of the groveling,   

Sam Golding

Mr. James Porter was please to present Sam with his Royal Blues at a subdued ceremony held aboard the Starship Cassini two weeks ago. Sam is now a member of the Cassini Supervisory Guild and with his Royal Blues has earned the right to boldly sit in the simulator's second chair and co-direct the ship's missions with the Cassini flight directors.  

Being a supervisor gives Sam the right to give orders to the Voyager cadets who work in the ship as volunteers.  

"I'm not sure how much this power and authority will affect me," Sam confessed to Jon Parker, the Cassini's Set Director. "What if I give a cadet a confusing direction.......which causes a delay in the mission - or even worse, a crew strike or death!?  How will I live with that?"  

"Sam, we have counselors on hand here at the Space Center who are trained to get you through those difficult times." Jon replied. "And remember, no matter how many times I yell at you or slam my hand on the counter to get your attention, I'll always consider you a valued member of the team, but don't let it happen more than once." Jon whispered that last part to remove the statement's threatening tone.   

                               Sam, obviously happy about his Royal Blues

I'm please to have Sam join me as the second member of the BiCenter Club's two person membership; so saying that membership in the Club is "exclusive" is an understatement.  Membership is restricted to paid staff who work at two of Utah Valley's six Space EdVenture Centers.  We both work at the CMSC in Pleasant Grove and The Space Place at Renaissance Academy in Lehi.  

Imaginarium Theater

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

Discovery Space Center at American Heritage School Launches a New Mission "Dual Edge". Mad Dog Spotted Near Lone Peak High School. A Missing Young Astronaut Squadron - the Search Continues. Imaginarim Theater

I got a short text from Alex DeBirk last week telling me of the launch of his new mission "Dual Edge" for his school's simulator Discovery.  With the paragraph came the photo below.

Alex's message read:

     These costumes go with the Martian bridge set. We told our new story Dual Edge today. This mission teaches about Native American wars of the 1800s. Here are two of the mysterious Gaians, dressed in special environment suits so they can survive in Discovery's atmosphere. The Gaians are our analogue of Native Americans, people who are forced to leave their land because of pressures outside of their control.

Alex DeBirk's classroom at American Heritage converted to a Mars Base for their new mission Dual Edge. The desks you see are from the old Starship Voyager's bridge at Central School 


Utah Valley's Space EdVenture Centers are gearing up for the summer space camp season.  The Christa McAuliffe Space Center has several new missions in the final stages of development with two test flight coming this week - one for the Odyssey's new mission and one for the Galileo.  The Space Place at Renaissance Academy is nearly ready with its new 5 hour mission as well.  Camp registrations are well under way. It should be a fun, busy summer.

Mad Dog Spotted by Mr. Williamson Near Lone Peak High School

I spotted Mad Dog's Minivan near Lone Peak High School two 
weeks ago and took a picture at the traffic light

Reports have emerged that the infamous leader of the Orion Space Pirates, Mad Dog, was recently spotted near Lone Peak High School in Utah. Mad Dog, a notorious wanted fugitive across the galaxy, has been on the run for years, evading the Federation security services at every turn.

It seems that Mad Dog had retired from a life of crime and settled on Earth in hopes of avoiding detection. However, his ego may have gotten the best of him, as he was spotted driving a mini van with license plates that gave him away.

It's not often that a notorious space pirate chooses to settle on Earth, let alone in Utah, but it seems that Mad Dog was hoping to fly under the radar and start a new life. However, his past caught up with him, and his presence in the area has caused quite a stir.

Local authorities are reportedly working with the Federation security services to apprehend Mad Dog and bring him to justice. It's unclear what his plans were for the future or how long he had been in Utah before being spotted, but one thing is for certain – his days of anonymity are over.

The sighting of Mad Dog near Lone Peak High School has left many residents of the area feeling uneasy, especially given his violent past. However, it is reassuring to know that the authorities are on the case and working to ensure the safety of the community.

It remains to be seen what will become of Mad Dog, but for now, residents of the area are advised to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. The hunt for this notorious space pirate is far from over, and it's likely that we'll be hearing more about him in the days and weeks to come.

Renaissance Academy Young Astronauts Missing in Nebula Hundreds of Light Years Away

One of the few pictures received from Command

The space community is holding its breath as news emerges of a missing 5th Grade Young Astronaut squadron from Renaissance Space Academy. The squadron has been missing for the last few months, several hundred light years from Earth, and the search for them is ongoing.

The only clue we have to their whereabouts are a few pictures transmitted by the ship's computer to Terran Space Command before their starship Voyager went dark. The images show the crew at work on the ship's bridge apparently working a plan to place the ship into the nebula - the reason is unknown.

                                  The photos show the ship at Red Alert

Adding to the mystery, the Starship Montgomery, which was in the region charting new star formation, has also gone missing. This has left the space community reeling and searching for answers.

Experts are working tirelessly to decipher the few images sent from Voyager's computer in the hopes of finding any clues that could lead to the discovery of the missing squadron. The search for the squadron has become a top priority for Terran Space Command, and resources have been mobilized from across the galaxy to aid in the search and rescue efforts.

                         The Voyager's Captain saw something in the cloud

The Renaissance Academy community is understandably concerned for the well-being of their young astronauts, and the missing squadron has left a void in the hearts of many. The school's 200 other Young Astronauts and Voyagers are rallying around the families and friends of the missing cadets, offering support and assistance in any way they can.

We think this is a photo of the communication's officer trying to call for assistance

As the search for the missing squadron continues, the space community is reminded of the inherent dangers of space travel and the importance of safety protocols and procedures. The situation is a sobering reminder that space travel, while exciting and full of possibilities, can also be dangerous and unpredictable.

The last photo. Why was this operation's officer hiding as he decoding a message. What danger was the ship in?

The search for the missing 5th Grade Young Astronaut squadron from Renaissance Academy and the Starship Montgomery is ongoing, and updates will be provided as more information becomes available. The thoughts and prayers of the space community are with the missing astronauts and their families during this difficult time.

Imaginarium Theater

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