A day at the site

    In this section we will attempt to convey a typical day at the 5th Dimension in the Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club, the first 5th Dimension to come into existence in a Boys and Girls Club center.


As you enter the Boys and Girls club you pass the kids playing ping pong, listening to music, and shooting pool before you enter a large room off to one side with computers in open booths arrayed around the walls.  Various aspects of the 5th Dimension, the maze, the task cards, and the packets containing each child's prior experiences in the 5th Dimension are set out on a table next to a computer hooked up to a communication modem. The walls are hung with pictures of the Wizard drawn by the kids and over the door are T-shirts of the kind worn by kids who have become Young Wizard's Assistants.


    There are about a dozen boys and girls in the room. Three are deeply involved in a game of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, which requires them to use clues to catch a thief as he/she tries to flee to different countries around the globe.  An older child wearing the T-shirt that indicates that she is a Young Wizardís Assistant is helping a smaller child log onto the telecommunications system to send a letter to the Wizard writing about a good strategy for remembering where synonyms are in the game of electronic Concentration she has just finished.  The local director of the 5th Dimension, a recent college graduate, is introducing two new kids to the activities.  They are picking out "cruddy creatures" with which to start their journeys and attempting to decide which room to enter first.  One wants to play Oregon Trail, the other is more interested King's Quest.  A pair of girls are sitting on the floor in one corner attempting to make the Origami object that will allow them to get to the "Good Level."  This will allow them to go next to a room containing the game Print Shop so that they can make a birthday banner for a friend.  At a table on the far side of the room a boy is being helped by a college student Wizard's Assistant to write a letter to another child in North Carolina who is supposed to know how to make a frog jump back and forth continually in the Pond game.  Another college student is helping a boy and girl playing Island Survivors to read the graph which tells them how to choose their activities in order to survive through a cold winter without destroying the ecology.


    Every 15 minutes or so, the games change and so does the composition of the groups.  When children finish a particular level of the game they are playing they mark their progress on Journey Logs before going to the map to decide what game they will play next and to assess their progress through the 5th Dimension.


    The room is full of discussion, argument, and joking.  At first it may seem sort of confusing, but eventually the observer sees that the children are enjoying themselves and so are the adults.  When someone achieves an especially difficult level in one of the games there is general celebration and when something goes wrong with a disc drive or the the telecommunications phone line goes dead unexpectedly, harsh words may be heard about the Wizard and his/her/its flaky ways.


    At the end of the day the children put their paraphernalia back into their folders and help to put things in order.  There is a flurry of activity at the telecommunications computer so that messages to kids far away and the Wizard will get to their destinations quickly, and so that everything will be ship shape tomorrow, when the 5th Dimension again opens its doors, and the entire show begins to unfold again.