Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thomas Edison Charter School visits the CMSEC

Arising early on a Tuesday morning, eight lucky souls piled into a vehicle and started the two hour journey from Cache Valley to Pleasant Grove. Upon arriving at the space center anyone would get out of their vehicle and be confused. "Where's the space center? This is just looks like an elementary school!" Once you enter into the space center you come to find that small additions that utilize every inch of space create an amazingly unique experience.
Our small group started off with a tour by the space center creator and director, Victor Williamson. We visited the five simulators, the Discovery classroom, and the starlab. It is fascinating to think that back in 1990 this now extensive program started out as a classroom lesson using an overhead projector, some transparencies, an imaginative teacher, and a captivated room of students. Eventually our tour ended, and with a few questions answered our crew was ready to get started on a mission of their own.

The brave crew of the Phoenix, that's one of the simulators, consisted of six fearless rookies. We brought along three Thomas Edison students and three parents for the adventure. Our reluctant captain was faced with a crew that had no idea what they were about to experience. Narrowly avoiding catastrophe several times throughout the mission, they finally reached the end. Since I wasn't part of the crew I can't speak for how they felt about the mission, but I can say that our captain might have punched her make believe nemesis if she had the chance.

You are probably wondering why a group would travel so long to visit such a place. The answer is that it can be found no where else in the world. The space center is truly unique in the experience they offer as they blast you off into an interactive story that no movie, video game, or other activity can simulate. You shouldn't feel bad for our small crew since many have traveled from much farther such as Idaho, Nevada, California, and even Russia. So two hours isn't all that bad, if the company is good.

That still doesn't fully answer the question of why attend. The parents and faculty of Thomas Edison see that the space center program is an amazing opportunity to teach students and excite them about learning. So why should such a place only exist in one location? With the support of the community, Thomas Edison Charter School hopes to be the host of a space education center that can service the students and community of Cache Valley and the surrounding area. A lot of preparation and work still lies ahead to get a program like this running, but we hope to keep you informed on our progress and that you might see ways to help us in that endeavor. So stay tuned.

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