Science, Technology, Engineering & Math | News

Archer School for Girls Encourages Pursuit of STEM Ed with Idea Lab

The Archer School for Girls has gone public with its new Idea Lab, a space designed to encourage science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning.

Launched at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the "Lab offers students hands-on activities and instruction which synthesize knowledge across educational domains, combining what students learn in science and math with new technical skills, analytical methods, creativity-building exercises and real-world problem-solving techniques," according to a news release.

Supporting Archer's school-wide integrated design and engineering arts program, activities offered through the lab include building prototypes, computer programming, discrete electronics and developing project management skills.

At Archer, students are introduced to STEM fields such as coding, research and engineering in grade 7 and "many" later "become candidates for the Honors Research in Science program," according to the news release.

"It's not enough to simply encourage girls to enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls' engagement and success in the STEM disciplines depend largely on the nature and quality of the curriculum and instruction," said Head of School Elizabeth English, in a prepared statement. "As a girls' school, we have a special responsibility to change the fact that women are still underrepresented in the sciences, particularly in computer and engineering sciences."

In an effort to encourage interest in areas traditionally thought of as appealing to boys, the school's "curriculum frequently resonates to larger global issues, calling for altruistic and humanitarian involvement," according to information released by Archer, focuses on a collaborative approach to achievement rather than competitive, and creates "curricula where girls independently choose and develop their own projects, project benchmarks and criteria for evaluation."

The lab is currently being expanded to help broaden Archer's engineering and design initiatives. Half the funds for the expansion were raised from supporters of the school and the rest, for a total of $100,000, came from a matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation.

More from English on Archer's Idea Lab is available at eyetoeyewithelizabethenglish.tumblr.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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