Category Archives: Academic Adventures

2015 Star Wars Final Weekend

Star Tours Star Wars Weekend 2015
A guy very similar to this sat with us during our Star Tours ride.

We had a blast attending the last weekend of the 2015 Star Wars Weekends. There were so many once-in-a-lifetime happenings. Did you know the Star Tours ride has several different beginnings and endings? On our trip through as a family, who should sit in the back of the shuttle with us then a very well known Rebel Spy (young man, blond, with a white desert outfit).

Our Snuggles cooling off at the Rebel Hanger.
Our Snuggles cooling off at the Rebel Hanger.

We also ate at the Rebel Hanger, a very nicely themed pub right next to the Jedi Training Academy.

And speaking of the Academy… that girl there on the left has graduated from the Academy and is an official Padawan!  She and her class challenged Darth Vader himself and drove him away from the Academy.

Actually, we stood in line starting before 8:00 am on Friday afternoon to secure her a spot in the dozen classes through the day.  She arrived for actual training at 6:00 pm which included being fitted for her robe and attaining her training light sabre (very similar to the one’s we already had).  Then the kids were marched across the square to the stage.

Our Padawan Snuggles fighting one-on-one against Darth Vader
Our Padawan Snuggles fighting one-on-one against Darth Vader
Gaining her diploma for finishing Padawan Training at Star Wars Weekends 2015
Gaining her diploma for finishing Padawan Training at Star Wars Weekends 2015

The weekend ended on Sunday with some great fun.  We saw the 501st Legion marching in a parade celebrating the end of the weekend as we came out of the Rebel Hanger from lunch.

star-wars-weekends2015Then finally there were tons of fireworks and a great celebration of the past, present, and future of Star Wars.  It was hosted by the voice of Obi-Wan from the cartoon, James Arnold Taylor.  I giggled a lot during it because he kept loosing his accent, he seemed so excited.

We did see a preview of the costumes for the new Storm Troopers in the new movies – awesome!  It’s very classic white/black and you can recognize it, but it has it’s own personality that really updates it for Star Wars VII.

We can’t wait!

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Travel plans unseen

Planning a trip is difficult. You have to get the timing right, the places to stay perfect, the transportation coordinated. Add to that some health concerns, some dietary restrictions, and age limitations.

Now, try to do that while keeping it a secret from two VERY precocious children.

We pulled it off! We managed a surprise trip.20150610_222150

20150610_222136 20150610_222154 We drove to Reno, Nevada, on June 5th to see my parents and family. The girls knew about that. They knew we would be driving out there, spending a few days, then driving back on June 10th. Yesterday we surprised them with the second half of their trip. We did drive back to SLC… then we got on a plane and flew to Orlando, Florida, to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort for 5 days in the Disney Parks.

Not only did we stay at the Parks, but as part of the Youth Education System, both girls are attending Girl Scout events. It is also the last weekend of Star Wars Weekends for 2015 (very cool).

What follow is our adventures for this trip.

Girl Scout National Convention part 2

Of all the things to find at Girl Scouts of America National Convention, Animal Jam was not on my list.  Created by National Geographic, it is an online game that has various levels of participation.  There is free to play and various subscription levels. The amusing thing is that the call center for Smart Bomb Interactive, the creators of the game, is here in Salt Lake City on North Temple. Their building has a view of the Salt Palace Convention Center where the Girl Scout National Convention was held!

So, what is Animal Jam?  Well, if I just looked at the computers in my house I’d say it was a load of cuteness that really had my daughters hooked.  Doing what, I’m not sure.

On their website, “Animal Jam is a safe and exiting online playground for kids who love animals and the outdoors.”  Yep, that sounds like my kids!  I know Snuggles has a grand house for her animals and Bookwyrm has a lot of the currency.  They have friends around the neighborhood that they can chat with.

Parent Alert!  Do make a parent account.  Do be in the know about who your kids are interacting with.  There is a lovely audio commercial on the radio about underage drinking.  It has lovely sound bites of a quiet serene landscape… that is what your kids hear if you don’t tell them underage drinking is against your rules.  Same with the internet.  Be in their faces, know what they are doing and who they are interacting with!  It’s your job as a parent.

Okay, soap box done – but do take what I say seriously!

Now, why would Animal Jam be educational? Activities are related to real world facts about animals.  The Animal Jam Academy is totally free.  Kids have a report on animals?  Here is your resource.

Play nice!  Many games in Animal Jam are collaborative – that means the kids have to cooperate. They get bigger rewards if they work together to complete some activities.

So, why would such a game be at the Girl Scout National Convention? Um, why not?!? Girls ages 5 to 18 are half of their biggest players.  The other half are their brothers, cousins, and friends.  So what was interactive at the Animal Jam in the Hall of Experience?  Everything!

animal-jam3 animal-jam1

What should you name your critter?  Choose one from each dial to complete your name.animal-jam2Animal Jam is releasing a 3D version of their game for iPad and had stations for the girls to play.  Also in the background were films about neat facts of strange animals.

Reaper at Salt Lake Comic Con

When we were going to Salt Lake Comic Con,we went to the game room. This game room had a lot of board games and a few role-playing games. There was also a booth set up that was Reaper. Reaper is a company that makes pewter miniatures and plastic miniatures. The booth they had let you paint a miniature and take it home with you.

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