Yesterday I met with James Porter (CMSC Director) at the Space Center to begin the process of learning the controls for the Space Center's new planetarium. Tricky but manageable is my overall opinion.
I've committed myself to a few hours most Saturdays at the Space Center to help where needed. Right now the need is in the planetarium - especially with the simulators in the process of launching. Tabitha and Natalie both run planetarium shows and are Odyssey flight directors. The Odyssey is open for private family groups - hence you see the problem.
My biggest obstacle is characterized by the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". The new tricks being an entire set of computer controls to run live shows in the planetarium. I'll keep you posted as my skill set evolves. Perhaps you'd like to attend one of my shows and snicker politely when I mess up.
The Odyssey Officially Opened on Saturday with a Full Day of Missions.
The Odyssey III was the first of the Space Center's six simulators to open for private family groups on Saturday. One down and five to go! The other simulators will open as needed and as health regulations allow. Natalie Anderson was the flight director. Nolan Welch was her trusted 2nd chair Blue Shirt Supervisor. There was a black shirt volunteer but sadly I can't remember his name.
I missed the Odyssey's first mission of the day, but was on hand to see the second mission. Natalie was true to form. The shutdown didn't seem to affect her story telling at all. There were a few technical glitches (the lighting had a few bugs) but James was on hand after the mission to troubleshoot.
Seeing both Natalie and Nolan at work, hearing the familiar sounds of music and alarms, and hearing the excitement in the voices of the crew made me feel right at home - as if it was any old Saturday at the old Space Center.
After the mission, James gave Jon Parker and I a demonstration of the Falcon's new lighting system. Impressive doesn't describe the coolness factor of those lights. They even have a true to task sound effect easily heard on the bridge as the light adjust themselves and focus on the walls and floor through a lens system. You'll have to see if for yourself once the Falcon opens.
Welcome back into Starfleet service Odyssey III. You wear the name Odyssey proudly in honor of the other two great simulators that came before. May Fortuna be kind and always pick on the larger ships as you take thousands of Utah's children to the stars.
From the Archives, Ten Years Ago at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.
The Staff and Volunteers Survive the Largest Overnight Camp in History. 51 Campers on a School Year Overnight Camp! See How You Think on Your Feet at the Space Center.
January 30, 2011Hello Troops,
We survived the largest Overnight Camp in the Space Center's History on Friday. Our max. is 45 campers for any given camp. We had 51 show up Friday night. They just kept coming and coming and coming. In the end there were ten not on the lists sent by the schools. I had a choice to make. I could either call the parents of the ten disputed students and have them come to collect them, or I could find a way to let them stay.
I played out each phone call in my imagination. I didn't even know I knew the swear words my imagination conjured up coming from each of the ten parent's mouths. Thirty seconds into this "What If" scenario I had to shift mental gears and go to my 'happy place' to slow my racing heart and lower my blood pressure. I knew I couldn't make those calls.
I looked at my older staff. They were looking at me, wondering what my decision would be. I wanted to send ten home, but who would I order to make the calls and handle the phone rage? Who would I have do the very thing I was terrified of doing? Who was on my butt kicking list for having missed work or coming to work not properly dressed? Who deserved to spend an hour listening to language not fit to print in any dictionary, language so foul the nation's alert level would surge upon detecting the hatred spilling through the cell towers and phone circuits?
Each of them were looking at me with the same drooping, helpless eyes a dog gives its master after having wet on the carpet and not wanting a whooping with the evening's newspaper. In the end I abandoned the idea. I realized if I had one of them make those fateful calls I would be hauled before a United Nations Tribunal in the Netherlands for Crimes Against Humanity.
"OK, we won't send them home," I announced.
"What are we going to do with ten extra kids?" Mr. Daymont asked. I wanted to say "Give them to you" but knew the shock would cause an instantaneous loss of blood to his brain causing a physical collapse in front of 51 campers.
I thought back to the last time we had large numbers, remembered what I did and made the pronouncement. "We take 31 of them and split them into two teams. One team does a Voyager 2.5 hour mission while the other does the same in the Magellan. They switch ships at 10:20 P.M. The Voyager can do a school field trip mission. They're designed for larger groups on the Bridge."
The staff liked the idea, what choice did they have?
The campers were delightful. They were excited to be at camp and had no problems doing whatever we asked. We all got through the camp unscathed thanks to an awesome staff and brilliant campers.
What can be said of my performance? I went and hid behind my desk for most of the night after dividing the kids into their ships. There are times in a teacher's career when hiding behind our desks is warranted. I just crawled into that little space reserved for my feet and stayed there until the world seemed normal again. If the staff asks, I tell them I dropped a thumb tack. Everyone knows you can't leave a lost thumb tack laying around, especially with a staff that likes to wonder shoeless at bedtime during an overnight camp.