Igniting interest: Students tour candle factory

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Students from the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley on Friday listen to chemist Max Donnelly talk about candles during a tour at Alene Candles R&D Labs in Milford.

MILFORD – Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) students saw where their passions could take them, Friday, by touring Alene Candles in Milford.

Each year, the company produces millions of candles for popular retail brands. This was the second time this week that students from the Souhegan Valley club visited.

The club offers a number of different STEAM-related areas for students to experience, including:

-Design and Engineering, during which students design and build towers, bridges and other models;

-Experimentation and Demonstration, through which students build experiments such as bottle rockets and electromagnets;

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Alene Candles Lab Manager Peggy LaFrance helps Charlotte, a young scientist from the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program, during a tour at the facility, Friday in Milford.

-Theater Stagecraft, wherein students can help design and build theatrical sets; and

-Stop Motion Animation, which allows students to develop an idea, create a storyboard and then a film.

In addition, students can also access the club’s Lego corner, makerspace “Creation Station,” and Chromebooks and tablets.

“Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment for kids to get involved in hands-on, experience-based learning and fun. It’s a place where ideas can be conjured up and put into action. Ingenuity and activity are highly encouraged,” it notes on the club’s website.

Friday, students toured the Alene Candles facility and got to walk through the company’s various labs. During the tour, the students filled candle jars with wax, practiced thermal readings and learned the chemistry behind the wax.

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Drew Masse, right, shows students Alene Candles’ Burn Lab on Friday during a tour. Students used thermal reading equipment to see how hot candles can get.

Once students were done with their tour, they were able to reflect with Alene Candle workers on what they had learned.

Alene Candles Lab Manager Peggy LaFrance, who has worked for the company for 17 years, said she never thought growing up that she would end up working with candles. She never had the opportunity to visit a candle factory and see what happens behind the scenes, as the club members did Friday.

“Now you’ve had the opportunity to see what happens at candle factories. You might work here,” LaFrance said, adding that there were all kinds of different jobs within their company.

“Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box of what you want to do,” LaFrance told the students. “It’s a choice. You’re young; you’re in the STEAM program; you’re learning things. Keep your mind open.”

Jackson G. a fifth-grade student, exclaimed, “Forget about working at the zoo. I’m going to work for candles.”

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Fifth-grader Jackson G. looks at a reading on a thermal gun to see how hot candles get during a Friday tour of Alene R&D Labs’ Burn Lab in Milford. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) students from the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley visited the facility on Friday.

Mike McKnight, the students’ teacher, said at the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley, they focus on providing opportunities for the kids and giving them exposure.

“They get a lot more hands-on opportunities, if they want it, as they get older,” he added.

Regarding the tours, McKnight said, “This is good because we get to see real-life science in action, rather than somebody talking about it. You get to see it happening.”