20 Aug 2014
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Archer School for Girls Opens Science, Engineering Lab

The IDEA Lab, as it is called, was funded in part by a $50,000 grant.

Archer School for Girls Opens Science, Engineering Lab

An all-girl's school in Brentwood is arming its students with more skills in science, technology, engineering and math through a newly expanded program called the IDEA Lab, thanks to a $50,000 matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation.

The Archer School for Girls recently opened IDEA Lab offers students hands-on activities and instruction in math and the sciences, according to Elizabeth English, who is head of the Sunset Boulevard campus.

English said the most important thing to engage the school's students in engineering and the sciences is to allow them to choose a project and create something.

"We feel very passionately that in order to get girls engaged in these fields, there has to be an element of creativity involved," English said. "Anyone can study for an AP test, but that is not what gets girls, and I would argue boys either, really passionate about engineering, technology."

Over Halloween, the girls programmed and engineered costumes that interacted with the environment around them. For a school play, they also designed an LED "light tunnel."

Girls are natural engineers because of their love of collaboration and problem-solving, English said.

"It's to me incredibly unfortunate that they have not seen themselves that way because I think that engineering and design will benefit from having that female perspective at the table," English said.

The school gets girls introduced to coding, engineering and research as early as seventh grade, and they then become candidates for the Honors Research in Science program, which includes time in the IDEA Lab.

The grant allowed the school to expand the IDEA Lab, and to offer more opportunities to students to accommodate the demand, English said.

--City News Service

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