The Archer School. Photo courtesy of Yelp.

Daily Press Intern

In the wake of recent wildfires, students at the Archer School for Girls on Sunset Blvd. are putting their engineering skills to use to make a difference. From laser cutters to blow torches, these young women are utilizing the resources available to them to find creative solutions to problems they see.

Archer’s award-winning inventing club is comprised of over 30 students working together to create a product intended to address a social need. The team is currently working to produce a jacket that can transform into a backpack, tent and sleeping bag, mattress, or other useful shape to aid people affected by natural disasters.

“[Students] surveyed the school about what problems people cared about and then refined them from that into an invention concept,” Archer’s Engineering and Design Coordinator Mike Carter said. “They really reach for impactful projects–things that really matter to them–and they go out and do it. I’m constantly impressed with what they achieve.”

The invention of this jacket will be a three year process for the club. Last academic school year, the club polled peers and members of the community to learn what issues are most important to those in the vicinity. Armed with information, the group decided to invent something that could be used in disaster relief, eventually deciding to design a multi-function jacket.

This year, the club is focused on making the jacket, itself. A class of six girls, Gabby Ayala, Rachael Azrialy, Evan Bowman, Marissa Gendy, Ariana Golpa, and Sophie Larbalestier, meets for approximately four hours each week to experiment with various designs and materials. They hope to have a completed prototype by May.

Next academic school year, the club plans to focus on bringing its product to the community by raising awareness about natural disaster relief and the ways that the jacket can help.

“Helping others is something we really strive for here,” eleventh grader Golpa said. “Almost every project we’ve made in this class or in InvenTeam has been targeted to help others rather than just ourselves.”

The team is working to receive a patent for their invention and ultimately hopes that disaster relief and humanitarian organizations will able to use the jacket to help people in need.

The club is not the only group of students working on engineering and inventing at Archer, however. The school’s Saban IDEAlab is home to a plethora of materials and machines available to all students, including 3D printers, electrical equipment, sawing machines, sewing machines, and blow torches.

From windmills to floorboards that store kinetic energy, phone cases with pockets to a live map of traffic in the school’s hallways, students at the Archer School for Girls have used the IDEAlab to invent a range of products.

Last year, students in Archer’s engineering and design classes created the massive Archer Biofeedback Chair, or the ABC. Equipped with around 600 LED lights and electroencephalography skills which allow the chair to read someone’s brain activity levels, the chair is intended to help anxious students relax. Lights and soothing music react to stress levels to calm students.

“There are so many things that I can make here and I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of making,” eleventh grader Hannah Kim said about the ABC chair that she helped design and build. “It’s a really great feeling knowing that…[I can] make a change.”

Samantha Raucher, a senior in Archer’s honors research class, spent her junior year researching and speaking to people about sexual harassment and assault before deciding to build an Apple Watch app to help report incidents.

In 2016, Archer’s InvenTeam was inspired by the California drought to build an ecologically-friendly faucet. It became one of 14 teams in the country chosen to win a grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program.

This year, the club was among 35 teams who won MIT’s Excite Award. Although it didn’t receive a Lemelson-MIT grant, the team is still pursuing its project with funding from Archer.

“I know for sure– science is for girls,” Kim said. “I know for sure I will pursue STEM.”

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