Launch Pad 2011 ended last week, and I wanted to jot down some thoughts to share before they faded. I also want to point out a post on the SFWA blog that links to some participant webpages where they discuss their workshop experiences:
First, every group has been great over the years. This one was, too, and in particular it was amazingly diverse in terms of audiences reached by the attendees. We had folks who wrote for Analog, for mainstream magazines and newspapers, for YA and middle-grade readers, and more. They were also as energetic and enthusiastic as any group before, maybe more, and I saw the genesis of many stories based on workshop lessons or inspiration.
Guest instructor Stan Schmidt was wonderful, and perfectly in synch with my vision and goals. More science. Better science. Get it right — it’s better than wrong! The application to fiction was a nice contrast to my science lectures, and helped tie things together.
The weather was less than ideal, but we got to look through telescopes big and small. Or at least at the start of operations of the big one (2.3 meter), which started a little late due to a thunderstorm delay.
Weather was perfect for the hike, and a couple of moose came out to be seen.
We had a couple of minor medical emergencies, unfortunately par for the course.
We changed dorm rooms, which seemed an improvement over the old ones. We changed class rooms, which had some pluses and minuses. Airport travel went amazingly smooth compared to some years.
The group was about as large as I ever want. Too big and it’s expensive, logistically difficult, and less intimate. Still, I like to take as many as possible, and I’ve got funding for at least one more year at this stage.
I promised attendees that I would post the lecture slides (in powerpoint, below). These are primarily based on introductory astronomy classes I’ve taught, and the images generally come from the textbooks Horizons by Michael Seeds and Cosmic Perspectives by Bennett et al., both of which I can recommend.
Galaxies (there are a few things here I want to updated/revise before next year)
Attendee Henry Stratmann, a cardiologist as well as a writer of science fiction and fact, graced us with two well-received presentations concerning human biology in the space environment.
Sex in Space (G-Rated)
There are a few other presentations by guest instructors that I may be able to secure and post, but don’t have handy today.
It’s always a lot of work, but also always a great time hanging out with like-minded creators talking about topics I love. Participants have continued to be uniformly happy and enthusiastic about the workshop, which pleases me immensely. It’s very satisfying to have a vision and see it come to fruition. Now I hope to continue to see the ripple effect bring more astronomy to the world at large.
Jim Verley and I are reviewing the evaluations, looking to make adjustments to make a successful program better. We will also be trying to secure a guest instructor for next year, after which we’ll announce dates for 2012 and an application window.