The Archer School for Girls in Brentwood has taken a progressive educational venture with the campus debut of the Saban IDEAlab.
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place Wednesday, Oct. 8 with a handful of dignitaries who value the Saban IDEAlab’s objective: to support and encourage Archer students to further engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
The Saban IDEAlab is set to function as the hub of hands-on learning that boosts student collaboration, creativity, and invention. Archer students will be able to utilize a variety of tools, machines, and other technologies to develop their design and engineering skills.
Some of the dignitaries in attendance included former LAUSD Board of Education president and advocate for girls’ STEM proficiency Roberta Weintraub, Archer Board Member and cardiologist Barbara Natterson Horowitz, Dean of UCLA School of Engineering Vijay Dhir, Head of Archer School Elizabeth English, and the First Lady of Los Angeles, Amy Elaine Wakeland.
Cheryl Saban, whose namesake is honored in the IDEAlab’s title, was also present, as the Cheryl Saban Self Worth Foundation for Women and Girls made generous contributions toward the new facility.
The Edward E. Ford Foundation and Archer supporter Roberta Weintraub also helped make the construction of the Saban IDEAlab possible.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was preceded by a presentation by engineering and design coordinator Mike Carter, who has served as an instructor at Archer and was therefore able to explain the integral role of the school’s STEM-focused Integrated Design and Engineering Arts program in the students’ growth.
Carter cited one of the “most gratifying” aspects of this IDEAlab as the shared vision of those who partook in the development of the new design space.
“The core belief that we share [is] a fundamental commitment [to] providing opportunities for girls to explore and to create and to experience things in ways they’re normally not encouraged to do,” Carter said. “To offer a full range of opportunity, support, and encouragement [is] at the heart of what we’re doing here.”
Carter said that the IDEAlab would provide Archer students the chance to work on real-world projects and develop
“Perseverance and confidence through practice” by teaching them skills and revealing capabilities they did not know they had.
Carter also highlighted two students who expressed “actual, authentic joy” upon building a bicycle-powered generator.
“They had never built anything with their hands before,” Carter explained. “They had never seen their own creations […] or used math and physics to create something new.”
It’s clear by some of the Archer students’ interests and passions that there was a demand for a STEM-centric learning space.
“I’ve been really active in our STEM program at Archer,” eighth grader Zoe said. “I started coding in the sixth grade and have moved onto more advanced coding. This lab is really important to me because now I have a new space to work with the things I’m passionate about.”
Ruby, another eighth-grade student, elaborated on her STEM studies and the new IDEAlab.
“I work in technology, and I’m currently programming an app that helps students with time management,” she said.
“I’m so excited to use this space to move forward with my STEM learning process.”
Perhaps serving as one of the examples of an authority figure the Archer girls may be in the future, Amy Elaine Wakeland, First Lady of Los Angeles, weighed in with her thoughts on gender disparity in the STEM fields before she and the other dignitaries cut the ribbon to the new lab.
“Only a quarter [of the jobs] in the STEM fields are held by women,” Wakeland said. “This disparity leaves pools of talent untapped, and it threatens innovation in these fields.”
Wakeland expressed her respect for women who break through such glass ceilings in the STEM fields and go on to become successful professionals in their respective lines of work. She also spotlighted Archer’s role in advancing such progress.
“I want to thank Archer, who has been an early standard bearer in training local residents for this kind of future work,” Wakefield said. “I’m really happy to be […] commemorating your next big step here.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony closed with open access to the Saban IDEAlab, with current Archer students stationed inside the lab to answer questions and explain the various components of the new space on campus.
The Archer School for Girls is located at 11725 Sunset Ave. in Brentwood.
For more information, call 310.873.7000 or visit archer.org.