How many kids ever get to experience the Presidential decision-making process? Thanks to the Air Force One Discovery Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum and Library in Simi Valley, California, and extensive video support and control by Alcorn McBride, middle school students get a chance to become totally immersed in the process.
An interactive historical theater, the Discovery Center includes replicas of the Oval Office and White House Press Room; a military situation room modeled after the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan naval warship; and a real Air Force One simulator. Reagan Library director of education Mira Cohen worked closely with Curtis Kelly of LA-based Delicate Sales, inc. to turn the script into a fully interactive, integrated media experience that engages kids with its video game-style feel.
“Kids play out a 50-minute, time-critical scenario involving the decision to invade Grenada in 1983,” explains Kelly. “They get a dossier that explains the history of invasion before they arrive for their visit, and they are assigned roles to play from members of the press corps and military officials to the President himself.”
In the Discovery Center sound effects, lighting and video elements help pressure mount as decision-making gets underway. Specific logic was required to play back content in different rooms as students choose whether to pursue path A or path B and a clock counts down anxious moments.
To synchronize the scripted but disparate events Kelly selected an Alcorn McBride V16 show controller which locks to timecode and tells a Video Binloop which of 25 different video modules to play; the Binloop also houses audio cuts and soundbites.
Cues from the V16 trigger a Crestron PRO2 control system and 12×8 video matrix switcher that routes certain clips to specific displays; the PRO2 can also prompt the V16 to start an event after a planned or unplanned delay.
An Alcorn McBride DMX Machine feeds lighting cues during the simulation.
After students decide whether or not to invade Grenada, they gather in the jet simulator as if they were flying on Air Force One. There they view archival news footage from the event combined with video of the kids’ decision-making process as history comes alive for the youngsters.
“Alcorn McBride’s Binloop is great and has worked fantastically well,” reports Kelly. “By using robust Alcorn equipment we have confidence that it’s all going to keep working. Two or three groups of students pass through the Discovery Center every day – already 50,000 students have experienced the Grenada simulation, and the Center is booked for the next two years. The Alcorn gear has run consistently for two-and-a-half years and has never broken down.”
The Air Force One Discovery Center won a Thea Award in December 2008 for Outstanding Achievement: Learning Experience.
About Alcorn McBride:
Founded in 1986, Alcorn McBride is the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry, and a rapidly growing provider of audio and video systems for retail environments and transportation applications. Staffed by some of the industry’s best engineers and backed by outstanding customer support, the company has demonstrated great agility in bringing new designs to market. A hallmark of Alcorn McBride products is their durable, zero maintenance design. The company’s products provide consistent, reliable operation for audio and video playback applications worldwide. For more information, visit