Flight Director Spotlight: Debbie Reynolds

Today we’re delighted to give a well-deserved shout-out to Debbie Reynolds, the Flight Director of the IKS Highlander at J.E. Harrison Middle School.

Also known as Admiral Northgate, Debbie is one of only a few dozen teachers across the country chosen for the NASA Space Educator Program.  In February, she attended the Space Educator Expedition Crew Program in Houston. Among the astronauts she spoke to there was Nancy Currie-Gregg, a veteran of four space shuttle missions.

If that wasn’t cool enough, Debbie is one of 50 members of the public invited to watch the next space shuttle launch (originally scheduled for next Monday) as participants in the NASA Social program. She’ll also have the opportunity to tour the Kennedy Space Center as well as speak with members of NASA’s social media team and other NASA officials.

Debbie was recently featured on CBS Pittsburgh, with both an article and a TV spot.  The video talks all about Debbie’s recent space adventures, and it shows several of her lucky students running missions on the IKS Highlander.  Be sure to check it out!

Tagged with:
Posted in Press

Flight Director Spotlight: Mark Mumm

Hi everyone, today we’d like to take a moment to spotlight one of our newest Flight Directors.  Mark Mumm has recently joined the Explore! Children’s Museum of Washington DC as the Flight Director of the IKS Horizon, a.k.a. the Mission Mobile.

He’s absolutely thrilled to be with us—see how happy he is?

Mark Mumm, originally hailing from Buffalo, NY, now lives in the Washington DC Metro Area. He has two Bachelor’s degrees from SUNY Buffalo (B.A. Video Production and B.A. Theatre Performance)  and a Master’s in Theatre for Young Audiences from Rose Bruford College in (the greater) London (area), UK. Mark has worked directly providing drama education and facilitation with children of all abilities. Ever the creative type, Mark plays guitar and also writes music, poetry, scripts, and the occasional motivational text message.

Let’s all give a round of applause to Mark—or should I say, Admiral Clark May.  Welcome aboard!

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

Construction of the IKS Niagara

Many moons ago we announced the construction of our latest simulator, housed at Frazier Elementary School.  At the time the ship was going under a codename, but today we reveal the ship’s official name:  IKS Niagara.

Construction on the IKS Niagara is nearly complete, so stay tuned for details about its launch, Flight Directors, and mission schedules in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, let’s take a journey back in time and observe how Frazier Elementary transformed an ordinary classroom into this magical learning environment.

Behold, Room 215 in Frazier Elementary School.  Room 215 was originally destined to be a standard computer lab.  In this photo it looks like countless other labs scattered around the world.  Bare white walls, straight linear desks, and heaps of miscellaneous odds and ends piled high for storage during the summer break.  But like so many others, the movers and shakers at Frazier Elementary weren’t content with the ordinary—they had something extraordinary planned.

Their dream led to a conversation, which led to another.  The concept took shape, and in doing so spread to others.  The dreamers unsheathed three of the most powerful their instruments for making magic—not wands, mind you—but measuring tapes, paper, and pencils!

And then they were off!  The team set to work.  Dream Flight Imaginerds drafted up bridge designs, Frazier’s shipyards put hammer to nail, and an elite cadre of Commodores began their training to be Flight Directors.  Now, a mere few months down the road, the IKS Niagara stands nearly ready for its official launch into the uncharted seas of imagination.

Where will their first mission take them?  Only time will tell!

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

IKS Buccaneer Emerges from Drydock with a Major Upgrade

This just in—we’ve Received a communique from the IKS Buccaneer stating that they’ve just emerged from drydock after having undergone an extensive upgrade to its systems.  Let’s take a look at the results!

When first approaching the ship, crew members will see mission posters mounted on a beautifully decorated wall.  The posters will be cycled as crews work through their mission docket.

The Buccaneer’s briefing room has received a fantastic treatment glitz and glamor as well.  The crews will be buzzing with excitement as soon as they step foot in the door.

And now, for the ship itself:

The main bridge has been extensively retrofit.  Glossy metallic panels reflect the soft glow of the newly-installed lighting system.  The whole room is alive with a futuristic state-of-the-art feeling.

The ambience is thrilling!  It’s amazing what an effect a bit of light and some detailed surfaces can produce.

The IKS Buccaneer is ready and waiting for its next crew to boldly adventure into the unknown.

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

Mission simulator offers Penn Hills students lessons in teamwork, independence

Over the past few weeks Jamie Martines, a reporter at the Tribune-Review, paid several of our simulators in the Pittsburgh area a visit.  Check out the great article she wrote about us!

Fifteen crew members were at their stations aboard the IKS Dreamcatcher.

Their mission: Locate and disarm the sunlight inhibitor device, a weapon designed by enemy forces to destroy the sun and ultimately, Earth.

“Captain, do I have your permission to light the turbo boosters?” asked Mission Control.

Capt. Rohan Amin stood on the bridge in his glow-in-the-dark Nike Pittsburgh shirt, gazing into space. He ordered takeoff, and his crew jumped into action. First and second officers buzzed around, working with engineers to maintain the craft. The doctor distributed medicine. Hackers and cybersecurity officers kept the ship safe from virtual intruders.

Within an hour, the crew visited all seven continents, met with astronomers and historians and discussed global history.

They also saved the world. All in a day’s work for Amin and his fourth-grade classmates at Penn Hills Elementary School.

The students were participating in the school’s flight simulator program. It’s an interactive learning experience designed to give students a chance to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world, and this particular mission matches the content they’ve been studying in their social studies class.

The program also is intended to help the students develop teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills.

Young students learn best when they’re immersed in real-life situations, said David Carbonara, assistant professor of instructional technology at the School of Education at Duquesne University. This type of experience makes learning more meaningful and helps keep students engaged. And with the teacher physically behind a wall, observing the students using a video camera, students learn to work with each other instead of relying on the teacher as the source of all the information. Having a title such as “Captain” or “Doctor” gives a student even more ownership over the learning experience.

“It helps to engage them more as a team,” said Jamie Harris, teacher at Penn Hills. In her role as flight director, she runs all of the school’s simulator missions. “They’re looking at this as the role you are assuming, and this is a role you need to do.”

As flight director, [Harris] has the ability to change the difficulty of the mission to match the students’ learning needs. That flexibility makes the program accessible for every student in the school, not just the high achievers. It also allows her to challenge students who could use an extra push, or give others a chance to shine. But that doesn’t mean the missions are a break from work.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Press

Shipyard News Leaks

Incoming communique… it appears that the Infinity Knight shipyards are active once again constructing yet another vessel to take brave crews of bright kids on adventures across the universe!  Details are scarce, but the transmission originates from the vicinity of Frazier School District in Perryopolis, PA.

A computer lab at Frazier Elementary is being transformed into a full-immersion simulator classroom

The datastream also makes mention of two new makerspaces to accompany the ship.

Frazier SD Shipwrights hard at work

The encrypted shipyard files bear the codename IKS Commodore.  Stay tuned for updates…

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

December 2016 Community of Practice Meeting

The space between Christmas and New Years provides a rare reprieve from the standard whirlwind of life—which gives us a bit of time to write about our most recent Community of Practice meeting.  Earlier last week, moments before kicking off Winter Break, a swarm of forward-thinking Flight Directors, dreamers, space cadets, and administrators descended upon Shaler Area Elementary School for a four-hour session packed with discussions about all things related to immersive simulator-based education.

Welcome to the COP meeting

Here’s Mike Penn welcoming us to his domain

We started with about 30 minutes of meet and greet. At about 10:30 we started the meeting.  Everyone introduced themselves.  Of special interest were Andy Princener from the YMCA, Tracey Armant from the Grable Foundation, and a variety of leaders from Grove City, Frazier, and South Butler, and Sharpsville school districts—all of which are in the process of pursuing simulator installations of their own. We were also delighted to welcome Todd Lichtenwalter (a.k.a Admiral Sai) of the IKS Artemis Charger, who flew all the way from Venezuela to attend.

Todd presented about all of the incredible lessons, connections, and tools that he’s developed around his simulator program in Venezuela.   He talked for about an hour and he had everyone mesmerized.  He was great—and as any good admiral he did it all in full Star Trek uniform.
Behold, the mighty Admiral Sai

Behold, the mighty Admiral Sai

We had Bobby Gasowski, the mighty shipwright, in attendance to show everyone—especially the first-time attendees—how world-class simulators are built.

Bobby Gasowsky, Master Shipwright

Bobby Gasowsky, Master Shipwright

Mike Penn

Mike (left) explaining a crucial mission tactic, or possibly conducting an orchestra of ghosts (right).

The entire four hours was full of people talking, sharing and being a thriving community of practice.  A special thanks to everyone who took the time out of their busy days—especially that this hectic time of year—to attend this event.  The collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and friendships that emerged are what this Community of Practice is all about!

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Merry Christmas from Dream Flight Adventures

To all our friends, family, cadets, admirals, students, and Flight Directors across the universe, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!  It’s been a magical year, and we’re looking forward to even more magic in 2017.  May your ship’s windshields never frost over.

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized

Frozen in Time

Alert!  In the middle of an epic mission, the IKS Artemis Charger was hit by a Denubian freeze ray and frozen in time!  Admiral Sai was the only one unaffected, so he leapt into action with his camera and documented the whole scene.

Mannequin Challenge:  Unlocked

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

Explore! Mission Mobile Flying to new Heights

It’s been a while since we’ve posted news on our blog, but today we’re delighted to share a bit of news from the IKS Horizon… also known as the Mission Mobile at Explore! Children’s Museum in Washington DC.  The IKS Horizon was recently selected as a model program by the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology!


When Richard Culatta, former director of the Office of Educational Technology, hosted various Latin American directors of educational technology, the Explore! Children’s Museum team brought the Mission Mobile to them and they participated in a mission. They all loved the experience, and Richard Culatta later shared the Mission Mobile as an example of innovative practice in one of his presentations.  Congrats to everyone at Explore! for a job well done!

It’s a bit late for Giving Tuesday, but the Mission Mobile is running a donation campaign to bring their simulator adventures to more students than ever before—and to expand the museum’s other programming as well.  If you’d like to support their growth, please consider donating on their website.

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized
Newsletter Signup
Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Log Archives