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OCESS, is the acronym for the full name of Spacesim. OCESS stands for Ottawa Carleton Educational Space Simulation. The name was changed from OBESS (Ottawa Board of Education Space Simulation) in 1998; when the Ottawa Board of Education was amalgamated with the Carleton Board of Education in 1998 to form the Otawa-Carleton District School Board, it was decided that the OBESS should change its name. At a lunch-time meeting, there was some name discussion and a vote was taken. It was decided to call the group the "Ottawa-Carleton Educational Space Simulation" (OCESS). The reasoning is that this new name encompasses the new board and keeps "Education" in our name. Furthermore, Spacesim already had a nice logo for the OBESS and designing a new logo was considered to be fairly unimportant; changing only one letter allowed the new logo to be very similar to the old.
In the club's early days, it was also refered to as the Lisgar Space Simulation, and International Student Space Simulations Lisgar/Ottawa.
The OCESS or "Spacesim" as it is commonly called, is a student run program based at Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Currently run by Admiral Magwood, the OCESS includes members from all grades and is dedicated to educating its members and others about space sciences and space exploration.
Spacesim has traditionally followed The Golden Rule as its motto.
The following is the official description of Spacesim as seen on the Spacesim website. It is significantly outdated:
The Ottawa Carleton Educational Space Simulation (OCESS)
The OCESS is a forum for its student members to learn about space and space exploration through an elaborate simulation program. The organization also provides educational services to other schools in the form of space science workshops (Elementary Education Program (EEPs)), planetarium presentations (we own a StarLab© portable planetarium) for elementary and high school students, and a space science contest open to all grade 9 and 10 students in the region. The sale of these services provides some of our funding. This organization is entirely run by its student members. The club serves the community in a number of ways. It meets the need for engaging, hands-on instruction in astronomy and space exploration for non-member students and teachers. It provides a focus for students to apply skills in math, physics, chemistry, and biology toward the solution of practical problems. It also provides students with simulated hands-on experience in the activities and planning involved in space exploration. This is an important up-and-coming field of endeavor for Canada, but one that usually is remote to day-to-day lives of most students. Finally, the OCESS provides a forum for students who are less likely to join organized sports teams or to participate in student government. These students have an opportunity within the OCESS to take on leadership roles and to work co-operatively with other students towards a shared goal. The organization is broken down into teams to address activities such as construction, mission planning, training, and educational outreach. Our main mission each year consists of a 96 hour procedure in which 6 student astronauts spend the entire time within a mock-up of an interplanetary spacecraft. The only time that they emerge is to explore and collect samples from a mock-up planetary surface at their destination. Other students carry out mission control duties, communicating with the astronauts through radio, closed circuit video, and computer text communication. They assist the astronauts in their duties and help solve emergencies as they arise. A third group of students are the simulators who build the planetary surface, cause various emergencies and malfunctions, and ensure that the other two groups stay within the bounds of our simulated reality. Mission preparation requires research into the intended destination, developing a rational for the mission, experiments to conduct during the mission, planning supplies that must be taken, upkeep on the spacecraft and related systems, training on the flight, engineering, and environmental simulation software for the spacecraft, mission control, and simulators, and training on mission procedures such as collecting samples while wearing a spacesuit. Students also must plan each phase of the mission profile to ensure that the spacecraft will successfully arrive at the destination and return to Earth. Several smaller training missions are carried out before and after the main mission. The educational outreach activities require students to manage bookings from other schools, ensure that club members are properly trained to give the presentations and to co-ordinate volunteers from the group members to present for each booking. Adult volunteer supervisors also must be obtained for these events. EEPs require similar preparations as well as making sure that all of the supplies and equipment needed to run the hands-on presentations are present. The Galileo Challenge is offered to science students at all schools in the Ottawa region (both public, catholic, and private). Student members write the contest exam, co-ordinate the advertising and other communication with schools, the distribution of the tests, and obtain prizes from local businesses. Student members also co-ordinate guest speakers such as Canadian astronauts and air force pilots to speak to the student body at large at our home school.
In the 2001-02 school year, OCESS underwent some rebranding. Efforts were made to change the feeling of the group from a student club over to a non-profit organization. This effort met mixed results, but are most evident in the more professional website and the new logo.
During the Rebranding, Spacesim picked up the following mission statement:
The Ottawa Carleton Educational Space Simulation is a student-run, non-profit organization geared towards educating youth about space and space science through fun and interactive means.
- Main article: Education
Spacesim offers two educational programs - EEP and Planetarium - to educate other students, both within Lisgar and without. These programs have been largely successful in the past, though their demand has been steadily declining due to lack of publicity. For its own members, Spacesim launches one 5-day simulated mission, as well as several smaller "training missions" per year. These, along with the maintanance and preparation activities carried out by all Spacesim members, educates them not only about space, but allows them to both learn and apply scientific concepts. It has been suggested that Spacesim could change its name to "The Spacesim and Engineering Club" without changing any of its inner workings.
Spacesim is looking to restart its Summer Camp program by summer 2006-07. It is looking either at forming a private company or a non-profit approach. Space Sim is also looking, over the course of several years, offer spacesim as a curriculum course, much like Outdoor Education. Both of these proposals are long-term projects and will require a lot of work.