DERRY — A local program continues to boost technology in Derry classrooms.
The 21st Century Learning Community program awards grants to Derry school projects and programs, offering technology support for schools through programs and equipment not included in the school budget.
Every year, schools submit grant applications for technology ideas in the classroom. The 21st Century committee then chooses several ideas to fund through its grant program.
The program began in 1991.
Last fall, the committee named the winners for the present school year. At a School Board meeting May 27, officials got more details about how that money worked technology wonders in Derry classrooms this past year.
Two winners shared the current $25,000 grant prize.
Recipients of grant money included a new engineering club and a “flipped” classroom model.
Ernest P. Barka Elementary School second-grade teacher Steve Lebel gave details of his 21st Century-winning program, an engineering club for elementary students.
His Imagineers young engineers group teaches younger students the joys of engineering, design and how things work — a STEM-based program teaching science, technology, engineering and math.
Lebel said the program was piloted in its first year at Grinnell Elementary and was very popular, with about 60 students in grades K-5 participating.
This time, the program is in both Barka and Grinnell, and has more than 200 children signed up.
Teachers at both schools, along with parent volunteers, help lead the program.
Sessions are taught for students in kindergarten up through grade five.
Another technology star is a “flipped” classroom concept at West Running Brook, where teachers make videos of lectures. Students watch them at home and then come into the classroom to do the work associated with that particular lesson.
Teachers Holly Whitney, Stephanie Burke and Angela Barber gave updates of how that program worked. They said it was successful this year, bringing in more than 70 percent positive feedback from parents.
Joel Olbricht, chairman of the 21st Century group, said it’s always a pleasure to see technology in action.
He said the group is a good mix of school officials, community members and administration, all working toward the goal of bringing technology to Derry through innovative new programs.
“It’s not just computers in the classroom,” Olbricht said. “We like to award programs that are innovative.”