Bits 'n' Pieces: Space Camp was a major blast for Woodland student

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Virn Warndahl used to be pretty sure he wanted to work as a NASA landlubber — an engineer or scientist. But now that he's been to Space Camp in Hunstville, Ala., Warndahl is aiming higher: space.

"I think this really geared me toward wanting to be an astronaut," said the 15-year-old Woodland High School student. It was his astronomy teacher, Elisabeth Deese, who first handed him an application. He won a full-tuition scholarship to Advanced Space Academy, a weeklong program for high school students.

"Every day was packed," said Warndahl. Much of that time was spent getting used to weightlessness and the other sensations of space flight. Underwater scuba training simulated zero gravity; a special harness attached to the ceiling with springs gave Warndahl the ability to leap and glide as if he was on the moon; a spinning centrifugal room flattened Warndahl against the wall at three times Earth's gravity -- simulating a real rocket launch.

Best of all, Warndahl said, were simulated shuttle missions. Some kids were on board the pretend shuttle while others manned mission control. The simulation required participants to use precise NASA language as they docked with the International Space Station and fixed a satellite.

The simulation even included "anomalies," Warndahl said, from a heat shield malfunction to an astronaut's epileptic seizure.

"One time, the CO2 filters failed and we all started dying," he said. Fortunately, a simulated medic was aboard. Nobody had to simulate zero-gravity death.

Learn more about Space Camp.

— Scott Hewitt

Artist turns to iPads for movie theater display

photoMartin Gerard

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Vancouver artist Martin Gerard has gained a reputation for creating reverse painted glass pieces. He paints artwork on one side of glass, but turns the glass over to view the image.

When Gerard learned Cinetopia owner Rudyard Coltman was planning a 23-screen theater, Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23, he scheduled an appointment to show Coltman his work. Coltman liked what he saw. He had an idea of installing a wall of digital photo frames to display images of current films. Could Gerard frame the wall of digital frames with reverse painted glass? After some consideration, Gerard suggested that a wall of iPads would produce the hoped-for results better than digital photo frames.

Approximately 200 hours of work later, Gerard delivered the eye-catching display of 34 iPad frames made of reverse painted glass. The 34 iPads and frames were installed on a long wall in Brewtopia, the theater's restaurant. The iPads blink images from current or upcoming movies.

"It was fun pushing the envelope as far as digital technology," Gerard said. "We didn't know if it would work until all the iPads were installed."

One of Gerard's 5-by-7-foot reverse painted glass pieces is displayed in the restaurant's entry. An image of Gerard's artwork is printed on the movie tickets, too.

Gerard's working on his next big project, an exhibit at Primary Elements Gallery in Cannon Beach, Ore., for the town's "Stormy Weather" fall art show.

Learn more about Gerard's artwork. See a short video showcasing the wall of iPads at Cinetopia.

— Susan Parrish

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.