By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — A local program continues to boost technology in Derry classrooms.
The 21st Century Learning Community program awarded 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.
At a School Board meeting Oct. 8, 21st Century representative Joel Olbricht said the grant money will help spark technology in the classroom.
The program started in 1991 with some great plans, Olbricht said.
“Technology is hard to fund in school districts,” he said. “We looked at it as a partnership between students, teachers, the school board, administrators.”
He said the nonprofit group wants to continue to support technology and creative thinking. This year, winners shared a $25,000 grant award.
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 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 last year at Grinnell Elementary and was very popular, with about 60 students in grades K-5 participating.
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.
Every year, teachers offer their own ideas and submit their programs for potential 21st Century funding.