By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Two programs at Grinnell Elementary School are not only putting students’ brain power and problem-solving talents in the spotlight, but are also geared toward creating positive self-image and confidence.
Two new extracurricular programs — Imagineers and Gecko Girls Running Club — give students a chance to shine in math and science activities, along with giving girls a chance to boost their fitness goals and how they feel about themselves.
Imagineers was the brainchild of third-grade teacher Steve Lebel, who wanted to give Grinnell students a chance to take on more projects dealing with math, science, technology and simple engineering.
The program is all part of giving children a venue to hone their thinking skills and problem-solving talents.
He saw the need at the elementary level.
Right now, about 50 students are signed up for the program. Lebel said the group is split into two groups, one for K-2 and the second for grades 3-5.
Students had a chance to play engineer and use simple computer skills to create a new school design, complete with their take on sidewalks, doors and how the traffic flow should work.
“They were off and running,” Lebel said. “Their ideas were amazing.”
Lebel said Imagineers gives students a head start in science and technology.
Grinnell principal Mary Hill said the program is a hit.
“The kids go in happy and leave happy,” she said. “We saw a need and Steve was able to piece it together.”
The Gecko Girls Running Club is also popular and 24 girls are now part of the program. Grinnell guidance counselor Kelly Herr said she saw a need to help support pre-teen girls deal with peer pressure, body image and confidence.
By adding in the running part of the puzzle, Herr said, it’s a good combination.
“They support each other, work together,” Herr said.
Gecko Girls Club also welcomes special female speakers, including women in the community considered to be positive role models.
It’s all about building a team, both while running and learning about the world and how to succeed as a woman.
“They are really excited, they are loving it,” Herr said.
Eventually, the Gecko Girls will take on a 5K race challenge. Moms will be invited along.
“It will be a great bonding experience for moms and girls,” Herr said.