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Countdown to fun: Children at Boys & Girls Club launch rockets, learn about science

Boys & Girls Club board president Jim Lucachick fires off a rocket Thursday evening for a crowd of 26 elementary aged children. Volunteers such as Lucachick are crucial in the planning and executions of fun events for the club. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pioneer 1 / 2
Boys & Girls Club board president Jim Lucachick and a crowd of 26 elementary aged children watch rockets in flight Thursday evening. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pionee2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- Elementary-age children from the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area participated in model rocket launches Thursday evening as part of a program led by board president Jim Lucachick to generate an interest in science.

Lucachick, a self-described "rocket nerd" who says he has been making model rockets since he was 9, assembled the 24 model rockets, which took him about 10 hours. After the rockets were assembled, Boys & Girls Club children were able to choose their own rocket to paint.

"Next time around, we're going to see what kind of kids' interest we get and then we'll see if they want to do a building session," said Lucachick, who is also a Beltrami County commissioner.

The rocket launches, while fun, were also meant to be a learning experience. Some rockets were made with altered fins in order for the children to see the type of effect it would have on the rockets' height and trajectory.

Before the first launch, Lucachick showed the children the proper way to pack the parachute for the rockets, how to attach them to the ignition wires and what button to push for the launch.

One by one, the children went up to the launch pad to give Lucachick their rocket while the rest sat at a safe distance away. Each child was able to press the button to launch his or her rocket to send it hundreds of feet into the air.

As the rockets were launched, Emma Guthrie, a BSU junior and Boys & Girls Club art coordinator, used a special device to measure the height of each launch.

"The highest one so far has been 419 feet," Guthrie said.

According to Guthrie, the art programs at the club are beneficial to the boys and girls that attend. "It's really good skill-building, and it's good for them to learn about different art activities," she said.

Skilah Hurd, 11, said she likes to paint and draw so painting the rocket was her favorite part of the experience. Hurd also said she was concerned with the distance that her rocket would travel when it was launched.

"I don't want it to go away 'cause I want it back. I want to shoot it myself if I get the right stuff," she said.

Gus Patrias, 9, said his favorite part of the launches was the smoke produced when the rockets shot up from the ground. He confidently announced he thought his rocket would travel a large distance. "It's going to go really far," he said.

With a full time staff of five, Andrea Ohnstad, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said volunteers such as Lucachick are important in the planning and set up of fun events like the rocket launch.

"Either serving at a board level, coming in and reading to kids, or helping prepare snacks, or shooting hoops with some of our kids in the gym, or taking them on outings to the state park -- volunteers are critical," she said.

People interested in volunteering at the club can contact Karl Mork at 444-4171 or email