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

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Few, The Proud, the Chosen Welcome a New Member of the Flight Director's Guild. The Flight Director's Roundtable Meets for the First Time. Julie's Dress of Many Planets, Imaginarium Theater

                 Alex R., in the CMSC Galileo with the FD Microphone in Hand

     One of the happiest things I get to post on The Troubadour is the appointment of new members into the Flight Director's Guild.  The Guild's membership is composed of outstanding flight directors at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center, The Space Place at Renaissance Academy, the Lions Gate Center at Lakeview Academy, the American Heritage School Discovery Space Center, and the Telos Discovery Space Center.

The Flight Director's Guild

     Today I introduce Alex R., as the newest member of the Flight Director's Guild.  Alex was given his FD wings on June 16th by James Porter, Director of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center.  He is authorized to fly the CMSC's Galileo.
     Alex, at 14 years of age, is one of the youngest FD's ever promoted into the Guild.  He started volunteering at the CMSC in April 2022 and in 14 months reached his goal.  His training began in November 2022.  His trainers were Brylee (Galileo Set Director) and Orion.  His favorite mission to fly is "The Hunt". 
     Getting into the Guild is difficult, requiring months of training (sometimes years) involving both hands on practice and critical reviews and evaluations of practice missions. So it is fitting that we celebrate the induction of another Flight Director into the Guild and wish Alex the best.
      So, with his hand on his heart, Alex takes the Flight Director's Pledge; 

     "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. I promise to honor the pioneering spirit of the first ship Voyager by continuing to learn and improve upon my craft. These things I will do until I lay my microphone down."

The Story Teller's Roundtable Meets for the First Time.

Tabitha Ricks Opening the first Story Teller's Roundtable

   The first Story Teller's Roundtable (STR) was held on Saturday, June 24, 2023 at the CMSC in Pleasant Grove.  This will be included as a new department in the CMSC's Voyager Academy along with the Engineering, Acting, Writing, and Computer Media Departments.  Tabitha Ricks is the STR's Department Head.  I'll let Tabitha's introductory email describe the department's mission and goals.
There has been talk for years at the CMSC about having some guild/department like gathering for staff to talk about flying theory. A lot of us, as staff, also look for ways to improve on our craft. We are officially launching Storyteller Roundtables to itch the theory bug, learn from each other, and keep our storytelling skills sharp. Staff is welcomed and encouraged to participate, however, attendance is not required. Roundtables are not paid. 
     Who are storyteller roundtables for? Any paid staff or trainees who tell stories - that includes Navigators, Supervisors, and Flight Directors. 
      When are roundtables? We'll be holding them on the 4th Saturday of every month from 9am-9:45am in the faculty lounge. That means our first roundtable will be held Saturday, June 24th at 9am. We will be talking about "Agency and Empowerment through Storytelling." Breakfast foods will be provided.
We hope to see you there!
     A note for navigators - Some storytelling tools vary between the simulators and the planetarium. Where storytelling is heavier in the simulators, content is directed towards them. Some roundtables may not be as readily applicable to the planetarium. You are always welcome, however, and I will mention which roundtables will have more tangible storytelling subject matter for navigators. 


     Tabitha did an outstanding job preparing for the event. She delivered a well planned workshop complete with stated objectives and clear, understood goals.


                         The First Gathering of the StoryTeller's RoundTable

     Flight Directing is both an art and science. With that in mind, several topics were discussed with current flight directors, navigators, and flight director trainees present.  Participation was encourage and thoughtful questions were asked.                      

     Workshops like this are necessary to allow our practitioners time to do three things - collaborate, share, and learn best practices. I encourage all our storytellers to attend next month's meeting and make this department a priority for your time.  

Mr. Williamson 

Julie Culver and Her Dress of Many Planets....

   Julie is a Planetarium Navigator (presenter) and a Junior Camp Leader at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center, so space is one of her things. Knowing that, I shouldn't have been surprised to see her arrive for a Junior Camp wearing what could only be described as  a Robe de L'espace.  Her dress was not one of those off the rack frocks you'd find at your "across the tracks" outfitters like Wilfred's of Wolverhampton, famous for their "One Size Fits All" warp arounds for all occasions.  No, Julie's dress was custom made -  a one of a kind not found even in the most exclusive boutiques on the Rue des Francs Bourgeois in Paris.  

     Julie, great job talking the talk, walking the walk, and looking the look. (I don't think that works, does it?)  


Hensen, Gracelyn, and Julie

     And while we're on the subject of Julie, let me say something about the fantastic junior camp program she runs with her co-instructor Gracelyn.  Together, Julie and Gracelyn see over 100 young junior campers per week. The CMSC's Junior Camp Program is extremely popular and difficult to get into if you don't book a spot for your child's camp early.       

Imaginarium Theater

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

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Provo Peaks and Bountiful Elementary Win the InfiniD League Competition (My Classes were Weighed, Measured, and Found Wanting :) InfinD, Out to Change the World. Imaginarium Theater


                       The winning classroom from Provo Peaks Elementary 

Our good friends at InfiniD Learning sponsor an end of school year InfiniD League competition every year.  Thousands of classrooms all over the country who are in the InfiniD network participate.  A special mission is created for the event.  I did my part by playing the part of the main computer.

The winning classroom from Bonneville Elementary 

InfiniD was started several years ago by former volunteers and staff members of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center.  The primary founders were Casey Voeks and Skyler Carr. They were determined to find a way to take the CMSC's magic and learning using immersive simulations to the world.  What they created has done just that and more.  I'm so proud of what they've done and the part I get to play in that success. 

Skyler Carr with trophy.  Skyler, you'll be delivering one of those to me next year.  Just letting you know so plan on it. 

 This year I had several of my squadrons of Voyagers and Young Astronauts from Renaissance Academy's The Space Place take on the challenge.  Most of my teams did OK.  A few did pretty good - and one or two I thought did amazingly well.  Their task was to take their starship "InfiniD" out into deep space to track down the infamous 'Patient 19' and return the anti-matter canisters she stole from a top secret United Colonies of Earth laboratory. The mission had plenty of excellent curriculum tied to a clever story.  But alas, we didn't take the prize and therefore bow our heads to the amazing team from Provo Peaks (older category) and Bonneville Elementary (younger category) on winning.  

To the winning classrooms, my Voyagers and Young Astronauts congratulation you.  Remember though, there is next year's competition and we will present ourselves better prepared.             

InfiniD is Presenting at the HSTI Conference in Arkansas this Week 

The HSTI Conference gathers the most dynamic and creative education professionals from around the state and country for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices, and pressing issues. Its impact has been felt by literally hundreds of districts, educators, IT professionals and ultimately students.

The InfiniD Display Ready for the Conference Goers

InfinD is on a mission to the Arkansas Sector to preach the gospel of immersive simulation based education at the HSTI Conference.  InfiniD's goal is very similar to the Borg, to assimilate the world to a better way of learning.  Everyone who passes this booth will be reminded of one simple fact:  Resistance is Futile.  Sure, ignore them now and play catch up later, or get on board and be a trendsetter and pathfinder.  

All of us in this movement (CMSC, The Space Place, American Heritage Discovery Space Center, Telos Discovery Space Center, The Lion's Gate Space Center at Lakeview, Reality's Edge, Dreamflight Adventures, InfiniD) trace our origins to the same place - a 6th grade classroom, 40 years ago, at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove where students sat at desks with poster board space ship controls and ventured out into the galaxy to explore and learn.  

One of my Young Astronaut Squadrons doing an InfiniD Mission at 
Renaissance Academy

We are all part of this large Space EdVentures diaspora.  Together, hand in hand, we are doing our part to show the world that immersive education is the future. We present EdVentures using a child's natural curiosity of the universe around them (both outer and inner) tied to a healthy dose of science fiction. And to your doubters out there, let me quote the Madalorian "This is the Way."  

Austin and Team InfiniD Filming a Instructional Videos for 
Next Year's Teacher's and Students

Imagine a classroom where every student has an Apple Vision Pro or Oculus headset at their disposal.  Imagine the places a teacher could take them!  A trip to the heart of the galaxy, a journey to destroy a cancerous growth in the brain, or a walk through ancient Rome to hear Caesar speak in the Senate. 

Students involved in an InfiniD Mission

 Again I quote, "This is the Way".  Today we celebrate what InfiniD is doing and thank them for exposing thousands and thousands of children every year to the magic and wonders of what we do every day in our simulators.  

InfiniD's March Numbers

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

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Celebrating the Start of an Out-of-This-World Summer Space EdVenture Camp Season in Utah County. Imaginarium Theater

The staff and Voyager Volunteers from The Space Place at Renaissance Academy on the first day of summer camp 2023. They are in the Voyager's Control Room. The person with the beard is the center's director Mr. Bracken Funk.

Amidst a backdrop of anticipation and determination, the momentous launch of Earth's Sagittarius Fleet unfolded at Starbase Williamson and Outpost 14 last Monday, June 5. As the engines roared to life, seven mighty starships stood poised for their mission: Voyager, Magellan, Cassini, Odyssey, Falcon, Phoenix, and Galileo. Together, these vessels represent humanity's collective strength and resolve. They are prepared to face the greatest threat ever encountered: the Ignorii.

Shrouded in darkness, the Ignorii advance relentlessly towards Earth, posing a perilous danger to mankind's very existence. The Sagittarius Fleet is Earth's last line of defense, a beacon of hope in the face of impending adversity. Manned by the finest staff officers and Voyager cadets from Earth and its dominions, each ship stands as a testament to the unwavering spirit and dedication of its crew.

With every system checked, every crew member focused, and every heart united, the time has come for humanity to make its stand. Together, the ships form an unstoppable force, bound by a shared purpose: to protect their homelands from the encroaching darkness.

In the face of such a grave threat, the crew members are driven by an unwavering determination to prevail against the Ignorii. They possess the skills, knowledge, and resilience necessary to navigate the uncharted territories that lay ahead. With every heartbeat and every command given, they brace themselves for the arduous battles that await, fully aware that their actions would determine the fate of mankind.

Say Hello to the Staff and Volunteers on the First Day of Summer Space Camp, June 5, 2023

Utah County's young space enthusiasts are in for an exciting and educational treat this summer as two of the valley's five space centers, the Christa McAuliffe Space Center (CMSC) and The Space Place at Renaissance Academy (SPRA), kick off their highly anticipated space edventure camp season. With their mission to create a space-faring civilization, both centers are prepared to offer an unforgettable experience to the young aspiring astronauts who will be attending their camps.

The staff and Voyager Volunteers of the Christa McAuliffe Space Center (CMSC) in the Magellan's Control Room on the first day of camp season 2023. Tyler G., is the guy with the mustache. He is the Magellan's Set Director

Monday, June 5 marked the beginning of this year's summer space camp season, with eager campers flocking to the CMSC and SPRA to embark on their extraterrestrial adventures. The Christa McAuliffe Space Center, named after the brave teacher-astronaut who tragically lost her life in the Challenger space shuttle disaster, has opened its doors to 52 campers per camp. Meanwhile, The Space Place at Renaissance Academy is geared up to welcome 10 space enthusiasts for their stellar program.

The staff and Voyager Volunteers of the CMSC in the Cassini's Control Room on the first day of camp season 2023. The guy with the microphone is Jon Parker. He is the Cassini's Set Director and the CMSC's Assistant Director

At the CMSC, campers will have the unique opportunity to crew one of six starship simulators, each with its own captivating name and missions: The Magellan, Cassini, Odyssey, Falcon, Galileo, and the Phoenix. The SPRA, on the other hand, boasts two starship simulators, the Voyager and the Nighthawk. The Voyager is the only ship operational for the summer at the SPRA. The Nighthawk is in the shop getting a major refit thanks to Megan Warner and Matt Long. With these state-of-the-art simulators, campers will feel like they've stepped right into a science fiction movie, ready to explore the cosmos.

The CMSC's Odyssey staff and Voyager Volunteers on the first day of
camp season 2023. Nolan is seated. He was the Odyssey's Flight Director of the First Day of Camp.

The staff and volunteers at both space centers have dedicated countless hours to training and preparation, ensuring that every camper has an extraordinary out-of-this-world experience. These passionate individuals understand the importance of nurturing a love for space exploration among the younger generation and are committed to instilling knowledge, curiosity, and a sense of adventure in each camper.

The CMSC's Falcon staff and Voyager Volunteers on the first day of
camp season 2023. That's Mr. James Porter, CMSC's Director, at the microphone.
He isn't one for pictures but kindly obliged me.

Adding to the excitement, cadets from the Voyager Clubs at both centers will be volunteering in the simulators. Their knowledge and passion for space and immersive simulator based learning will undoubtedly inspire and motivate the young campers, further enhancing their summer camp experience.

The CMSC's Phoenix staff and Voyager Volunteers on the first day of
camp season 2023. That's Silver in the plaid shirt. Silver is the Phoenix Set Director. I literally had to drag him into the control room for this staff photo. He was on his way to give his mission briefing. You don't mess with Silver's schedule :)

The camp missions themselves are the highlight of the summer program. Lasting anywhere from 2.5 hours to an impressive 7 hours, these simulated space missions immerse campers in thrilling adventures that utilize science fiction to ignite their curiosity about space. The campers assume the roles of futuristic astronauts, venturing into the cosmos aboard make-believe starships, and engaging in awe-inspiring missions that challenge their problem-solving skills and encourage teamwork.

The CMSC's Galileo staff and Voyager Volunteers on the first day of
camp season 2023. Brylee is the Galileo Set director - and as you can see by the number of pins on her lanyard, one of the most decorated of the Set Directors.

The CMSC and SPRA have carefully crafted these missions to be both educational and captivating, providing campers with an unforgettable journey through time and space. By blending science fiction with real scientific principles, the camps aim to excite young minds and inspire them to delve deeper into the wonders of our universe.

Summer Camps at the CMSC have always stared the same way, in the gym with excited campers waiting impatiently for their simulator assignments.

As the summer space camp season begins in Utah County, it is with great joy and anticipation that we congratulate the Christa McAuliffe Space Center and The Space Place at Renaissance Academy on the start of what promises to be a truly fantastic summer. To all the campers embarking on these cosmic adventures, may you reach for the stars and find endless inspiration in the mysteries that lie beyond our planet.

The campers love summer camp.  Here you see some of The Space Places's campers enjoying a friendly game of dodgeball during their lunch break.

Imaginarium Theater

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

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Maintenance and Test Mission Week Complete. The 2023 Summer Space Center Camps Begin. Farpoint Voyagers and Young Astronauts Finish the Year. Imaginarium Theater

The Voyager's Test Mission Crew.  The crew consisted of 2 Farpoint Voyagers, 4 CMSC Voyagers and 2 Voyager Explorers

The space centers reserve the first week of June as maintenance and test mission week.  Several maintenance projects build up over the school year, and with all the school flights and field trips, it is too difficult to fix them unless the project is serious. 

Last week The Christa McAuliffe Space Center had projects under repair and improvement in all six simulators.  The Space Place at Renaissance Academy did the same with its Starship Voyager.  The Voyager had lights replaced and a new mammoth subwoofer installed.  Other hallway ceiling speakers were replaced as well.  

In addition to the maintenance projects, several of the simulators ran test missions of their new summer camp stories last week.  Test missions can be told anytime, but with everyone's tight work and school schedules, the first week of June has been, and continues to be, the best time to run them.  Yesterday the Voyager flew two 5 hour test missions; one for the junior camp and one for the senior camp.  

Bracken Funk and Megan Warner manned the Voyager's Control Room accompanied by five of The Space Place's Voyager Club Volunteers.  

Four members of the Voyager test mission crew were Voyager Volunteers from the Christa McAuliffe Space Center.  One of my goals is to bring our Voyager Club members together from time to time to get to know each other and experience all the starship simulators in Utah County. We are at our best when we support and learn from each other.   

Aiden, (standing) a CMSC Voyager, was the captain.  Wyatt, (seated) a Farpoint Voyager, was the first officer. Both are Alpine District High School Students

The Voyager's camera feeds into the Control Room

Mikey W. and Kate F are both CMSC Voyagers. 
They manned the Operations Station

Of course there were bumps in the test mission road - which is why we run them.  The Voyager test crew gave Bracken excellent feedback on the mission. That feedback will be used to make modifications in the story and how it is run to ensure the campers will have the best experience possible. 


Ellie and her Outstanding Cassini Staff running a test mission 
of Artemis, a new Cassini 5 Hour Mission

I spent several hours at the Space Center last week working on my own to do list but took a break or two to pop in on a few of the test missions.  I found Ellie (above) running a test mission of the Cassini's new 5 hour mission Artemis.  The Cassini is blessed with a well trained and talented staff - something you'd expect with Jon Parker as your Set Director.  They reported success with their test missions. 

The Cassini is bringing back an old fan favorite "Event Horizon" from the original Starship Voyager's library as a 10 hour Officer's Camp story.  The Magellan is telling yet another old Voyager story "The Grand PooPah".  It is nice to see my old missions from the first Voyager still being told and loved. 


The Cassini's Hyrum sitting at Ellie Feet taking copious
notes on the Artemis mission. 
The Farpoint Voyagers and Young Astronauts Finish the School Year with Great InfiniD Scores.  

A few members of the 6th Grade Tiger Squadron celebrated taking 3rd place on
their InfinD Mission.  3rd Place out of 200 classrooms nationwide 
is something to celebrate.  

The Farpoint Voyager and Young Astronaut Clubs at Renaissance Academy's The Space Place were so large this school year that we ran out of school days to complete their 8 meeting / mission cycles. We had to finished them last week after the year ended.  Fourteen squadrons filled our schedules on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Each squadron did an InfiniD mission in my classroom and finished their Long Duration Mission (LDM) in the Voyager.  Their LDM's started in October.    

The 3rd Grade Lion Squadron Leaving Orbit on their InfiniD Mission

Imaginarium Theater
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