Ivor church hosts rocket-building STEM class

Published 1:44 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

When it comes to mixing faith and science, the Gospel Club of Judah appears to be off to a strong start.

A successful rocket launch. — Stephen Faleski | Tidewater News

The recently-founded Ivor church, housed in what was once a gun store located off of Route 460 (General Mahone Boulevard), hosted its first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) exercise for area youth on Thursday, teaching them to build and launch miniature rockets.

According to Irvin Ricks Jr., the church’s executive leader and coordinator of its STEM classes, the children constructed their rockets in just two days, using model kits developed by NASA. The STEM program, named “Judah’s Lab,” is intended for students in fifth through eighth grade, and is held during times when schools are not in session, such as winter break and during the summer. Six children, all from either the Ivor or Franklin areas, participated in the rocket building exercise.

After a few technical difficulties with the ignition, all rockets eventually had a successful lift-off.

However, only one returned to the parking lot behind the church from which the rockets were launched. Each was designed to reach heights of up to 1,000 feet and included a miniature parachute to ensure it returned safely to the ground.

Ricks is no stranger to teaching STEM to children, having taught technical education for the past 13 years.

He is a current teacher at L.P. Jackson Middle School in Surry County and graduated from Virginia State University in 1998 with a degree in industrial technology.

He intends to lead another rocket-building exercise in the near future, as well as other science-related activities in the spring. The date and time of the spring STEM/project-based learning session will be announced mid-winter.

The church was founded and moved into its current location at 35198 General Mahone Blvd., Ivor, in July of this year.

Its staff can be reached at 371-6148 or judahconnects@gmail.com.