DATA Awards Application

Blurring the line between entertainment and educationDream Flight Adventures™ is an immersiveinteractive learning experience

…that teaches teamworkcritical thinking, and problem solving

…by blending sciencetechnology, and engineering

…with social studieshumanities, and art.

In other words, it’s a real-life Magic School Bus.  It’s part simulator, part game, and part theater—and it creates an out-of-this-world experience!

Wow, that’s awesome.  So what exactly is it?

Simulator SketchOur magical experience centers around an educational adventure that takes place inside a full immersion simulator.  Children ages 8 to 80 enter the simulator, work together to operate it, and go on incredible adventures.  They travel to outer space, under the sea, back in time, through the body—anywhere their imaginations take them!

Our players become the captain and crew of these simulators and must work together to complete their missions, and their success or failure can depend on the action of a single person.  Our missions are completely flexible and open-ended.  It’s like stepping inside a movie and becoming the main characters as the story unfolds around you.  Players must think creatively, and each action can change the outcome of the mission.  It supports a level of true interactivity that can’t be found in a video game, a play, or any other kind of activity.

Educational, huh?  Tell me more about that.

21st Century SkillsDream Flight Adventures™ builds upon the 20+ years of experience of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Utah, which has enriched the lives of over 300,000 children.  Our missions are designed around Common Core and state standards by professional educators and are brimming with educational content.  And the kids love them!  They’re often described as “better than Disneyland.”  Nothing’s better than teaching kids when they think it’s a game!  Shhh, don’t tell.  It’ll be our little secret.

Our adventures use science fiction and fantasy contexts to expose players to standards-based curriculum, thought-provoking social and ethical issues, and crucial 21st Century skills.  These unique adventures create a strong emotional experience.  This helps imbue the concepts deeply in our players’ memory, so the lessons they learn remain with them for their lifetimes.

“It’s the ultimate cross-curricular activity.” ~ Joe Malloy, Math & Science teacher, Robotics Club coach

“There’s tremendous potential and I get giddy about it.” ~ Michael Penn, Gifted and Talented Teacher

There’s tons more to tell, so head on over to the Curriculum section of our main website if you want to learn more.

Spiffy!  Who’s behind this?

Dream Flight Adventures™ is the brainchild of a husband-and-wife team in Pittsburgh, Gary and Sarah Gardiner.  Over the past three years they’ve spent every spare minute on nights and weekends making their dreams become a reality.  It’s been tough going… juggling school, a full-time job, and three children doesn’t leave much time for projects like this, but a lot of patience, sacrifice, and just a tiny bit of insanity have done the trick.

Gary GardinerSarah Gardiner <— the crazy dreamers

But we haven’t done it on our own.  Over the past 12 months we’ve been very fortunate to team up with some fantastic community organizations here in Pittsburgh:

Grable FoundationShaler Area School DistrictChrista McAuliffe Space Education CenterIdea FoundrySpark and the Kids + Creativity NetworkCenter For CreativityAllegheny Intermediate UnitMath Science CollaborativeRedd ScientificChildren's Museum of Pittsburgh

Of particular note, we’ve been working with the Shaler Area School District (which has been generously supported by the Grable Foundation) to build the very first full-sized simulator in the Pittsburgh area.  It will be housed inside the Shaler Area Elementary School, which serves over a thousand 4th-6th graders, and will also open its doors to field trips and groups from around all of Allegheny County, and beyond!

Take a look:


We have a lot more pics of the simulator on our blog.  Check ’em out!

Want to see it in action?

I gotta get me one of those!

Dream Flight Adventures™ is magical, but it’s built with everyday stuff like iPads, computers, lights, and wood.  If you’d like to add a transformative interactive learning experience to your organization, please let us know.  We’d be delighted to meet with you to explore the possibility.  We’re expanding, and who knows, maybe you’ll be the home of the next Dream Flight Adventures™ simulator!


So that’s it.  Cool, huh?  There’s plenty more we can say about this dream coming true, so pull up a chair and poke around our full website to learn more.  Then, when you’re done, contact us to schedule a visit to see it all in person!