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The Archer School for Girls Receives Edward E. Ford Foundation Grant for STEM Curriculum Leadership

Independent LA all-girls school opens innovative "IDEA Lab" supporting Integrated Design and Engineering Arts program

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Archer School for Girls, an independent all-girls school located in the Brentwood community of Los Angeles, has raised the bar for educational leadership in crucial Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning with the opening of Archer's innovative IDEA Lab as part of the 2013-2014 school curriculum. Archer's new IDEA 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.

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Coursework and enrichment activities offered through the IDEA Lab include computer programming, discrete electronics, building prototypes and project management skills. The new IDEA Lab supports Archer's school-wide program of Integrated Design and Engineering Arts. At Archer, girls are introduced to coding, engineering and research as early as 7th grade. Prepared by the work they've done in middle school, many Archer girls then become candidates for the Honors Research in Science program, and may find their place in the IDEA Lab.

Expansion of the IDEA Lab is now in progress thanks to the prestigious $50,000 matching grant bestowed on Archer from The Edward E. Ford Foundation. The mission of The Edward E. Ford Foundation is to strengthen and support independent secondary schools and to challenge and inspire them to leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout the United States. As a recipient of the Edward E. Ford Foundation grant, Archer will broaden the school's engineering and design initiatives, creating greater opportunities for girls and women as thought-leaders in the STEM disciplines. Archer achieved the match from strong supporters of the Archer community and contributions were matched, dollar for dollar, by the Edward E. Ford Foundation to total $100,000 in funding for STEM.

According to the January, 2014 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, women make up only 34% of web developers, 23% of programmers, 20% of software developers, and 15% of information security analysts. And, only 1.5% of open-source code—called the backbone of the web by the tech industry—is programmed by women.

"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," comments Head of School Elizabeth English, who has more to say on the subject in her regular Eye to Eye video address to Archer parents. "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."

English states that the all-girls learning environment supports qualities which girls require in order to excel in academic areas traditionally thought of as masculine. Case in point, the Archer curriculum frequently resonates to larger global issues, calling for altruistic and humanitarian involvement. This approach is further validated by a collaborative rather than competitive approach to achievement, and through structuring curricula where girls independently choose and develop their own projects, project benchmarks, and criteria for evaluation.  In unison, these three factors are demonstrated to play a role in girls choosing majors in STEM areas, and pursuing STEM careers. In particular, the attachment of compassionate purpose to academic study is a core value at Archer, and is exceedingly rare in most educational settings, especially those of mixed-gender.

Roberta Weintraub, noted philanthropist, civic leader, former President of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, and founder of High Tech High, is a champion of Archer's new IDEA Lab. Of her advocacy for girls' achievement in STEM, she says, "My career has been dedicated to helping young people develop tangible life-skills which lead to productive futures. I have witnessed students at The Archer School for Girls embrace the STEM fields with passion, enthusiasm and dedication. It is time to break the final barriers for women and Archer will be one of the leaders in this endeavor." 

For media relations, contact Alexia Haidos at: Tel 310-450-6890 or email; or Christina McIntosh, Director of Communications, at:  Tel 310-873-7025 or email. For more information, please visit www.archer.org or call 310-873-7000.

Read more news from The Archer School for Girls.

SOURCE The Archer School for Girls

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