Located in Pleasant Grove, Utah, the Christa McAuliffe Space Center is a 4,000-square-foot facility featuring simulators and a planetarium. The Space Center is named after Christa McAuliffe, an educator and astronaut who lost her life in the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and is designed to teach astronomy and social studies through simulators with hands-on applications for education. Since opening in 1990, more than 400,000 visitors have experienced the Space Center and its simulated space missions.
Central Elementary School, whose campus houses the Space Center, was revitalized in May 2020. The new school facility, located in Utah’s Alpine School District, reopened in late 2020 with newly commissioned simulators. “The Christa McAuliffe Space Center has been around for decades,” said Kendall Bowman, audio visual engineer for Performance Audio. “It’s a staple for students throughout the Utah Valley area. Central Elementary is not only utilized by the current K-12 students. Other neighboring schools and districts utilize the facility for hands-on educational experiences. The new facility needed to be designed to offer a high-tech experience for students either attending or visiting for a day.”
Bowman added, “During the reconstruction, Central Elementary wanted to utilize the downtime as an opportunity to upgrade their AV system. They had an existing system that was a combination of solutions that were added over some time, but not necessarily designed to work seamlessly. Central Elementary selected BNA Consulting to create a unique, user-friendly AV experience during the reconstruction.”
The simulators, each with individual names and specific characteristics, are located in separate rooms representing missions based on aspects similar to the Star Trek universe. Each room creates interactive stories, usually applicable to historical events, to create a hands-on learning experience. “The original design included a matrix solution, but as we continued through the design process, it made more sense to incorporate an IP solution,” said Bowman. “It was important for the client to have a solution that distributed video from one simulator to another simulator, each located in a different room. We selected Visionary’s PacketAV Duet Matrix Series because it provided us with a cost-effective, flexible solution that tied the video from each simulator together. The audio and control system is based on QSC Q-SYS architecture, and from our past experience, Visionary’s products work seamlessly with QSC’s technology. We worked with BNA Consulting to incorporate network infrastructure to provide the client with a seamless yet flexible solution.”
Visionary’s PacketAV Duet Matrix Series is designed for standard network infrastructure, which allowed Performance Audio to create a scalable solution for Central Elementary. “We utilized 24 PacketAV Duet Encoders and 12 PacketAV Duet Decoders to bridge the video between six simulators,” noted Bowman. “The end result was a flexible, robust solution. Most importantly, it created a lot of value for our client, because they have the opportunity to add a display or other input source without having to replace any of their technology. Visionary’s PacketAV Duet Matrix Series enables our client to expand their system easily. The client is thrilled with the flexibility of the systems. We’ve had nothing but good feedback from them on the final result.”
Performance Audio’s installation at Central Elementary was its largest installation with Visionary, although it’s been working with Visionary’s technology for over five years. Bowman added, “Visionary’s willingness to open the control of their technology and work seamlessly with other manufacturers, such as QSC, is a huge value add for us. We integrate QSC into a lot of our projects, and Visionary is an easy choice because of the integration with QSC. Visionary’s built-in ‘plug-in and preview’ eliminates installation time and allows us to efficiently design a system that we’re confident in.”