WOONSOCKET - Woonsocket children built a more productive winter this year.
Sponsored by several teachers and administration, the Woonsocket School District this winter hosted a LEGO Club in an effort to provide an outlet for activities during the winter months, when other activities are scarce.
"We wanted to utilize their time in a more productive way than watching TV and playing video games," Woonsocket Title I Instructor and LEGO Club Sponsor Jason Bruce said. "With this, they can build and use their imagination to do something kind of different than normal in the dreary winter when there's not much else to do because it's miserable outside."
For a few hours after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, approximately 90 of the elementary's 120 students participated in the club, where they completed group building projects and free building, when they were allowed to build whatever they could dream up, including cars, houses, cities and more.
And along with keeping the students away from electronics, it also keeps them out of trouble, Bruce said.
"I never have to discipline anyone because they're so intrigued with building," he said. "They just come in, get settled and get to work."
Funded through a NorthWestern Energy grant, parent donations and a donation from the Woonsocket Elementary Parent Club, the LEGO Club has been a huge success, Bruce said, and although the club's season was cut short due to the impending birth of Bruce's child, he said he anticipates it will make a comeback next year. In the meantime, students can use the skills they learned - teamwork, problem-solving and organization - in the classroom.
Typically, the club runs from late November to early April, Bruce said.
"I would love to see the program continue and be around as long as students want to build LEGOs," he said.
Since its inception, Bruce said he has bought hundreds of LEGOs, and donations continue to flow in from appreciative parents - including himself.
Now, Woonsocket teachers are able to use the LEGOs during the school day and for events, allowing the club's benefits to reach all of the children in the school.
This year, for the first time, the club met across the street from the school in the former preschool building, but next year members will meet in the soon-to-be-built addition to the Woonsocket Elementary School. This will allow for more space for builders to "be creative" and ensure their imaginations aren't limited due to space constraints.