logo_bgc.gif (5583 bytes) Boys and Girls Clubs
logo_bgc_bottom.gif (3375 bytes) of Greater Nashua

Merrimack - 2008-2009 school year

Click here to return to the B&GC page on jflis.com

I have been so incredibly busy this past year that I was not able to keep up on my photo albums for my Boys & Girls Club classes in Merrimack and Litchfield.!

I was able to get a photo album together for my first session in Fall of 2008 (click the link to go to that album), but that was it.  Until now.

The photo album below is from my Merrimack classes for all classes AFTER that first session for the 2008/2009 school year. You can find the Litchfield photo album by clicking this link.  I don't have ALL of my photo's here, but I have some of the better ones.  Also, to help get this album up quickly I did not bother to caption all of the photos.  I did do my best to put a description of each class just before the album though.

In Merriamck I teach 3 hours on Monday, 3 on Wednesdays and 2-3 on Fridays.  Tuesdays I don't teach and Thursdays are when I travel to Litchfield for 2 classes.  The number of classes I actually teach depends on the length of the class (some are 1 hour, some 2 hour) and how many kids sign up for a class.  I have had some canceled due to low signups.  Too bad as they were all great classes too...

Enjoy your time browsing the photo albums here.  When you click on a thumbnail image it will bring up the picture in this window.  You will have to use your browsers BACK button to get back to this page.

If you see any photos that you want for personal use you can contact me at jim@jflis.com and I will send you a high resolution version.  Be sure that you send me the exact FILENAME of the photo you want so that I am sure to send you the correct image.

Use these handy links to jump to a particular section (photo album):



Bubbles.  How fun!  There's also a lot of science behind them.  In this class we didn't dwell too much on the science other than to observe it and make note of some specific things that were happening (such as the full, spherical bubble taking up the largest volume with the least surface area).  Each week we explored a different facet of bubbles and soap films including the simple bubble, giant bubbles, bubbles under glass, effects of different shaped wands, making square bubbles and honeycombs, bubbles within bubbles, flavored bubbles and more.  As with any class many were excited and really into it, others got bored quickly.  The "messy" days were always the best for total class involvement LOL.  Hey, we even explored bubble artwork!

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The simple bubble
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Large domes 
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Domes inside of domes
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shapes under glass (plexi)
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cylindrical bubbles
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Bubble Art
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Bubble films
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pyramid wand
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Cubic wand
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Cardboard Boats

One of my favorite classes.  Yep, we build FULL SIZE boats out of corrugated cardboard, paint'em up, put them in the lake, get in and paddle them along a course!  Really!

Having been involved with the Merrimack Public Library Cardboard Boat Races as a coordinator for many years (we have GOT to find a way to get that event back to town!) this was a natural thing to offer the Boys & Girls clubs.  Originally this was to get kids interested enough to build a boat over the summer for the library event.  We start out with a short class to explain a bit about boats, cardboard, glues, tapes and paints.  We explain some common folds and methods of creasing and gluing cardboard for the best leak proof operation.

After that we go to town, so to speak.  This year we were restricted to about an hour per week.  We hope to increase this to a 2 hour session the next time as we were a bit rushed this year (past years were 2 hour sessions).  We had some experienced cardboard boat builders and some newbies too.  We established teams that would link up the experienced with the inexperienced so that the kids could learn from each other and no one team would have that much of an advantage.  We had 3 teams, so 3 boats.

After 1 week of lecture, 3 building, 1 painting we were ready to go float our creations!  Many thanks to Sherry Kalish of Wasserman Park for permission to use the Wasserman Park lake front for our boat races!

Three boats out, three boats back.  Well, sorta...  You'll have to view the photo album to see the details :)

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Measure twice, cut once!
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By george!  It's starting to look like a boat!
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Testing rowing positions
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Paint adds color as well as waterproofing.
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Our intrepid crews!
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And they're OFF!
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Back on dry land!
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Click here for a short movie of the boat race!


Carnival had a great deal of potential while being frustrating at the same time.  We had about 4 kids signed up (the absolute minimum we could justify).  It also ran right after cardboard boats and we wanted to do our best to make sure that folks who needed to work on their boats longer than the hour that they could, so we often held carnival in the same place as the boat builders.

Add to that that over the 6 weeks of the class we never had more than 2 of the 4 actually ATTEND the class, and often not the same two, made it very difficult to get much done.  We spent the first 2 weeks talking about ideas, in the hopes that more kids would show up.  In the end we built a Skee-Ball game and planned out a mini-golf course.  I have since come up with several other ideas (along with the ones we talked about in class but never got around to making) so I am looking forward to doing this class again with larger participation and a slew of great games to play

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Deck The Halls

My mom was always the crafty type of person and it was she who taught me how to use the tools of the trade, be it adhesives, knives, rulers and more.  One of the things she taught me was how to make what she called "Kissing Balls" for the holidays.  These were decorative Styrofoam balls that you would hang in place of mistletoe.  We would decorate them with pretty ribbons and beads in many different sizes.  Over the years I expanded this decorating idea to include angle tree-toppers.  

This looked to be a perfect fit for the kids at the Boys & Girls clubs and I offered to do a class.  We had about 6 sign up for it and I think everyone had a great time (this was the 2nd time offering this class).  

The technique is simple but the possibilities are endless, as you will see here.  The beauty of this type of work is that everyone gets to express their own imagination and, in the end, take home a wonderful decoration that is truly all their own.

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Ukrainian Egg Decorating

Another art form taught to me by my mom.  Ukrainian Egg decorating is an ancient art form that can result in the most beautiful creations ever seen.  The technique takes some getting used to but is not difficult.  The biggest problems we encountered were breaking eggs.  Only one student went through the whole session without breaking an egg while we had one student break every egg touched, at one point or another...

This was the first time offering this class and it got enough attention that I think next year will be even bigger.  The big advantage was that I have a large selection of professional dyes that we were able to use so that we had a nice wide array of colors from which to choose.

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Fishing.  What can you say?  It's fun, exciting, low cost and gets the kids out of doors and into the wild!  This year we didn't catch as many fish as we have previous years, but it was still good.

After 1 week of learning casting techniques (we'd have contests casting at targets), learning about different types of rod/reels, fish, bait and tackle, we began hitting the waterways.  I made a point of bringing the kids to a different fishing spot each week so that they were exposed to many different types of fishing conditions as well as different types of fish.

Special thanks to Sports Authority for a $100 gift certificate to allow us to purchase new and replacement tackle so that we had enough for everyone!

We went through a LOT of worms.  But, more than that, we went through a LOT of smiles too! :)

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How wonderful is THIS sight?
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I got some interesting looks from local fishermen while I was waiting for the kids to arrive...
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We got to see all sorts of wildlife
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Smiles don't get much bigger than this!
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Freeze Factory


Cold enough to make a rose petal shatter like glass.  Freeze Factory is the investigation and study of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) and its effects on common things found around the house.  We explored sublimation (evaporation from a solid to a gas with no liquid state in between) as well as the density of CO2.  We saw how an expanding gas can fill a balloon, make bubbles in a soapy solution and more.

While everyone in the class was familiar with how dry ice makes "smoke" (CO2 gas), they were not prepared for all of the other fun things that dry ice can help you do!

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dsc01802.jpg (59840 bytes) dsc01804.jpg (30681 bytes) Click here for a short movie!

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Miniature Golf

This was our first try at mini-golf.  The intent was to use the time to design many different types of mini golf courses and then to actually build them.  Test them and make decisions on which ones are the most fun to play.  We would also figure out what didn't work on some design ideas and make corrections so that they WOULD work.

We came up with clever solutions to the "cup" (we used a piece of 2 sided tape on the floor) as well as some great obstacles for the ball.  In the end we wound up with 3 winning designs that we then set up during the end of session show for all to enjoy.

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Something that I taught myself many years ago, it seemed like a perfect fit for the Boys & Girls Club.  We had a nice turnout of about 8 kids and we all learned more about the art of paper folding.  We even had one student who was clearly very experienced in origami and helped us all understand some of the more difficult folds as well as bringing in ideas for us to try.
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Plastic Model Building

Having built plastic models throughout my childhood I figured this would be a great class for the Boys & Girls Clubs.  The only problem was the cost of the kits.  In order to get a "good" kit you had to be willing to pay a fairly hefty price.  Special thanks go out to he HobbyTown USA on Amherst St. in Nashua for steep discounts for all of the kits used in this class.

We had kids who were new to plastic model building as well as kids who have a great deal of experience with them, and everything in between.  The kids learned about different adhesives, using knives, tweezers, clamps and other specialty tools.  they learned how to apply decals and lacquerer paint and even how to read some of the most complex instructions I've ever seen written...

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Model Rocketry (Beginner and Advanced)

Model Rocketry.  My personal favorite (but them I am biased).  We hold a rocketry class every session and this photo album spans at least 3 sessions throughout the year.  We build FlisKits model rocket kits as I have a connection and can get them at a good price :) 

Each session we have 2 classes, one for beginners and one for more advanced students.  Sometimes these are combined into one, but often are kept separate, depending on how many kids sign up for the classes.  The beginners will learn the basics of model rocketry while building and flying two models over the span of 6-7 weeks.  

The advanced kids will sometimes build two models, but often build just one as the complexity level and time needed to build go up considerably with the advanced class.

The kids learn building techniques, using tools (knives, pencil, ruler, glue, scissors, etc), techniques (folding, cutting, sanding, reading instructions, etc) and, in the end, bring their creations home for a personalized paint job.  they return them to the school for launching and get the thrill of their lives as they watch their light weight paper and wood model scream into the air and come back via parachute or streamer.  This has been our most successful offering through the Boys & Girls Club.

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Pride is one of the emotions expressed for a job well done
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Rows of kids, hard at work
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Patience is key when building model rockets!
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FUN is also key!
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Building something that DOES something is a hoot!
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The advanced class has far more work to do to complete their models.
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Launch day is always highly anticipated by all!
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Family and friends enjoy an afternoon watching their kids fly their creations.
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Perfect recovery!
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The advanced class explores competition with Egg-Lofting (yep, there is a real (raw) hens egg in that rocket!)
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A boys love of a hobby!
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Rocketry can give you a LOT of exercise too!
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Roller Coaster Design (Balls & Tracks)

I have always loved the course called "Balls & Tracks", more commonly known as "roller coaster design".  With simple materials such as pipe insulation and a marble, a roll of tape and some imagination, you can create some incredible and exciting roller coasters while learning about potential and kinetic energy, drag, centripetal forces and more.  (Lordy, if the kids knew how much they were actually LEARNING this may not be fun for them anymore LOL)

We don't have advanced versions of this (yet), so every class is run the same.  Those who come back to the class a second (or third or forth) time do so because of how much fun it is and the possibilities (and to prove that they can do better than they did last year).

Each session begins with a basic understanding of the materials along with the task of building a very simple track containing a simple hump (hill) and a jump into a cup.  They set it up using pipe insulation that has been split lengthwise and a marble for the roller coaster car.  This gives them a good introduction into the principles applied here and how to work with the materials.

As the weeks go one they are given more and more challenging tasks to complete (loop-d-loop, spiral (cork screw), track jumps and more).  Near the end of the course they are challenged to build a single roller coaster that contains all of these elements and any others that they may have thought up themselves.  

It is very gratifying to see their young minds figure out solutions to problems that seem complex at the start and then simplify once they understand the forces in operation.

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Rubber Band Powered Cars

Power ARGH! (in my best Tim the Tool-Man voice...) LOL

Making things that DO something is always fun and Rubber Band Powered Cars is a great example.  Using simple materials such as cardboard, wood dowels, paper plates and rubber bands, we can create our own mini Indianapolis speedway right in the classroom!

The kids learn how to use simple tools such as pencil, ruler and knives along with hot glue guns and tape.  They learn techniques and principles such as balance, alignment, stored energy, friction and more.

What's more, they get to bring home a working model that, it is my hope, inspires them to try new and more complex ideas on their own.

We begin the session learning about the materials and tools that we will be using.  We explain the function of the parts and how to best attach them.  By the second week we are cutting and gluing and by the 2nd to last week we are fine tuning our designs and begin our races, for what's a car to do without a race!

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WIred is a class where the kids learn the basics of house wiring, electricity, how circuits work and more.  We begin with an understanding of how electricity flows, how circuits work, the difference between parallel and series circuits, doubling and halving the power available and more.

The kids learn how to use specialty tools needed to perform these simple steps, such as wire cutters, wire stripers, electrical tape, conductors and insulators.

For lights we use cut up Christmas light strings (these bulbs work on 1.5 - 3 volts (perfect)).  Other materials include D-cell batteries, electrical tape, paper clips and brass pins (to make switches), wire and a cardboard cutout in the shape of the front of a house.

I provide the kids with a drawing to attach to their "house" that shows different rooms as well as locations for the various components they must install (lights, switches, etc).  We then begin the wiring process.  

This usually being a very new thing for these kids it can take a while for them to truly feel comfortable with the materials and understanding the need to be precise, but it comes.  By the end of the class everyone proudly displays their working  houses, which they also get to take home with them.  Again, as with other classes, this is in the hopes that they use the tools and training to expand on this at home and learn more and more about this exciting subject!

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This concludes the 2008 / 2009 school year with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua at the Merrimack Campus.  Thank you to Sarah for such a well run program!


  • I would also like to extend a special thank you to Sports Authority on 101A in Amherst, NH
    Sports Authority provided our fishing class a $100 gift card to purchase new and replacement
    fishing gear to help us get the most out of this program.  After 2 years of heavy use our equipment

  • Thank you to Sherry Kalish and the folks at Wasserman Park for use of the park for our Cardboard Boat class and fishing class

  • Thank you to Greg Faith and HobbyTown USA on Amherst St., Nashua for discounts on plastic model kits and model rocket motors for our classes

Thank you!

Jimmy Good Toad's log of contemplationMy commercial web site [NOT YET AVAILABLE] jflis@hotmail.com AltaVista Search Site Map Town of Merrimack New Hampshire Home page Copyright, 1998, James M. Flis
Copyright, 1998, James M. Flis