Antarctic Expedition

At Dream Flight Adventures we typically report on daring missions brimming with educational value—all set in a fictional universe.  Today, however, we’re celebrating a real-life mission of epic proportions.  Mike Penn—a.k.a. Admiral Rigorious—has been selected to join a PolarTREC expedition to Antarctica during the 2018-19 Austral summer.

Mike will be working with a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin installing and maintaining Automatic Weather Stations all over the continent—sometimes where no human has ever been!

The team extends the AWS (Automatic Weather Station) using the tripod. At South Dome on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo by Jim Pottinger (PolarTREC 2011)

Mike will teach his students (and students all over the country) about Antarctica, meteorology, geography and all of the science that he and his team will be doing.

This past week Mike ventured into the bitter cold of Fairbanks, Alaska to begin training for his adventure.

You can follow Mike’s expedition and journals here as they unfold over the course of the year.  We’ll post periodic highlights here on our cozy, warm, but not-so-adventurous blog, but be sure to check out Mike’s journals for all the exciting sub-zero details!

Posted in Uncategorized

Death, Destruction, and Mayhem at OETC18

Have you ever moderated tense peace negotiations—or had to discover the cause of an epidemic? Have you helped create a new government or used science to stop a natural disaster? This is exactly what our students at Shaler Area Elementary get to do!

This week Mike Penn attended the Ohio Educational Technology Conference to share how his simulator classroom, the IKS Titan, uses death, destruction, and mayhem to prepare his students for success.

By the time Mike’s presentation kicked off there was standing room only.  Every seat in the room was filled with enthusiastic educators from all across Ohio eager to bring hands-on immersive education to their students.

Mike described how when the hatch door closes, the simulation suddenly becomes real. The students are no longer fifth graders—but heroes, leaders, scientists, and engineers. They take ownership over their roles and they kick their brains into full gear. Students have risen to the challenge, found their inner leadership skills, and worked together as a team to save the day.

“What a great way to get kids involved!” commented one inspired teacher.

It was a joy to meet with everyone at OETC, and we hope our story gives rise to all new epic adventures for their students!

Posted in Uncategorized

Sneak Peak of the IKS Niagara

Hi Troops, today we’re delighted to share a few photos from the new IKS Niagara.  This simulator has been flying under the radar lately, as ships are wont to do when the school year kicks off, but Admiral Rigorious paid them a visit earlier this month and brought back a few juicy photos to share.

The ship is brand new, so Larry, Jerry (Will), Tanya, and Mike had the pleasure of sending the very first crew of test pilots on a dangerous mission.

The experience was hair-raising for the new Flight Directors, but the kids absolutely loved it!

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

Flight Director Spotlight: Emma Fraser & Andrew Pricener

Today we’re delighted to spotlight two of our newest Flight Directors:  Emma Fraser & Andrew Pricener.  Both Emma and Andy have joined the ranks of Flight Directors through our partnership with the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.  This partnership began as a series of tremendously successful summer camps at the IKS Highlander last year and is quickly taking off to bring smiles to many more children throughout the region.  And now, without further ago, let’s take a look closer look at Emma and Andy!

Emma Fraser

Alias: Admiral Soror de Terra

Emma Fraser is currently a STEM Educator for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh working with their after school programs. She brings fun STEM activities into the program and encourages students to be creative and develop problem solving skills. She received her Bachelor of Environmental Science from Allegheny College and has been working with children for the past 6 years. Emma enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and backpacking, and she loves teaching about science and nature.



Andrew Pricener

Alias: Admiral Draconis

Andy is currently the Youth and Family Director for the Spencer branch of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. He is responsible for the 1,400 member Guides and Princess Program, as well as the 3 summer camps offered at the Spencer facility. His main goal is to create new and inventive programming for the Y, which makes the partnership with Dream Flight so special to him.

After graduating with a degree in Business, it only seemed natural for him to start working with kids! Self described as “a really tall 9 year old,” if Andy is not forced to be in his office, you can almost always find him playing kickball or foursquare with the kids. He believes that it is his life’s calling to put a smile on the face of everyone he meets, which is easy, he says, once you stop taking yourself too seriously.

Andy is so excited to join the Dream Flight Team, and can’t wait to start this journey.

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

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
Newsletter Signup
Subscribe via Email

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

Log Archives