Classroom Design

Private Girls School Revamps STEM and Media Spaces

A private school for girls in Los Angeles recently converted classrooms into spaces intended to improve delivery of STEM education and media-related work. The Archer School for Girls, opened in 1995, converted the spaces to help its 480 students engage in engineering, design and media activities. The school worked with Parallax Architecture and Planning, a firm that specializes in the planning and design of educational facilities.

The Saban IDEAlab, a maker space, was formed from two smaller classrooms to support multiple forms of digital and manual fabrication. The room includes a machine workshop and a lab with a milling machine, flat-bed laser cutter, 3D printers and collaborative work spaces.
The Saban IDEAlab offers collaborative work spaces.

"Essential design features included broad interior windows for good room-to-room visibility, ample natural lighting, comprehensive noise and dust controls and enhanced power provisions for specialized equipment," said Craig Jameson, Parallax design director. "The result is a safe, highly adaptable environment supporting ever-changing learning and making activities."

"Engineering and design thinking are skills that strengthen a student's capacity for critical thinking, project management, problem solving and teaming," added Head of School Elizabeth English.

Among the science, technology, engineering and math courses provided to the students in grades 6-12 are Web app design, coding, circuits and integrated arts, engineering and design and computer science.

The MediaSpace is intended to help the students learn media production for film, television and music. The new learning environment allows students to work collaboratively and independently. It includes 12 "editing bays" with professional software, a sound booth for vocal recording, a soundproof lighting studio equipped with an infinity wall and mechanical backdrops including a green screen, a 20-seat screening room and media arts lab for graphic design, film, animation and digital photography.
The MediaSpace includes 12 editing bays equipped with industry-standard software.

"Archer students can experience the complete cycle of film production proceeding from conceptualization, to filming, editing, soundtrack placement and titling to final screening," said Jameson.

The MediaSpace serves as the hub of the school's "Institute for Film and Video Literacy." The goal of that program is to encourage more women to get into film and television production. Each year, the institute hosts a student-run film festival that's open to high school students in California.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.