The imaginations of many children in the late 1960s and early 1970s were captured by NASA's Apollo missions to the moon -- and Whitehall fire Chief Preston Moore was no exception.

"I bought my first rocket when I was in the fifth or sixth grade for a 4-H project," plucking it from the shelf of a department store in Mount Vernon, said Moore, 56, whose love for rocket science endures today.

Moore shared his rocket-building passion and know-how with about a dozen children Oct. 13 at a program held by the city's parks and recreation department at Whitehall Community Park.

The program was offered in cooperation with COSI as a prelude to the museum's first Science Festival, coming up May 1-4.

Stephen White, vice president of external affairs, strategic initiatives and business development for COSI, used the workshop to announce Moore was a STEM Star and had been chosen as one of the grand marshals of a parade that will be part of the Science Festival.

COSI, while staging science- and STEM-based activities in each Franklin County city, will select a STEM Star to serve as a grand marshal from each, White said.

Moore was selected, White said, after Whitehall officials nominated him for the time he has donated in the past to "inspiring the next generation of (scientists and engineers)," White said.

Moore said he previously had approached Shannon Sorrell, the city's parks and recreation director, about developing a rocket-building program.

About the same time, COSI was reaching out to Whitehall and other communities as part of its initiative to "bring science to where people live," White said, leading to the Oct. 13 event.

Each child received a model-rocket kit, and Moore led a step-by-step process to build the rocket.

He also showed off a variety of prebuilt rockets, including one he built in the early 1970s.

Moore said his interest in rockets waned after he left 4-H as a child, but was reignited for good as an adult when his son joined Boy Scouts.

After the rockets were completed Oct. 13, Moore instructed children how they could later launch the rockets by purchasing a platform and using a variety of engines that propel the rockets at various velocities.

The rockets are fired not with a lit flame but an electrical charge that ignites the engine, Moore said.

Each engine has small amounts of black powder and rocket fuel that can send some rockets to heights of 1,000 feet. A streamer or parachute pack that deploys after the engine exhausts allows for retrieval of the rocket.

Among those who built rockets was Max Apple, 11, a sixth-grader at Rosemore Middle School.

"I built one once with my dad so I wanted to make another one," said Max, who didn't use the provided decal but scribbled "Mad Max" on his rocket instead.

His younger sisters -- Madison Morris, 6, and Mallorie Morris, 3 -- also made rockets with the guidance of their mother, Sara Apple.

"I saw the event on Facebook and thought it would be something fun for us all to do," Sara Apple said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo