Blog posted On July 18, 2018
An all-girl team of high school engineers has created a collapsible, solar-powered tent to help the homeless population in their hometown of San Fernando, CA. Just in the past year, the homeless population increased 36% to approximately 7,094 people in the San Fernando Valley. Unable to give monetary donations, Daniela Orozco and her classmates found a new way to improve the lives of homeless people in their community.
Powered by DIYgirls, a nonprofit organization that provide access to engineering, math, and science education to young girls in low-income communities, eleven classmates worked together to design a product that could help the growing homeless population in their community. The tent folds up into a backpack, so the user can carry it during the day, and it can charge from the sun. At night, the solar power illuminates LED lighting sewn into the tent. The girls tested prototypes to ensure the tents could withstand the elements.
Last year, DIYgirls taught 650 girls in elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Los Angeles County. DIYgirls aims to bridge the gap between STEM education in public schools in low income areas, compared to private and charter schools in more affluent regions. According to the National Science Board, women account for only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.
"Because we live here, we see [homelessness] growing constantly," San Fernando Senior High School student Maggie Mejia explained, “If your parents miss X amount of bills, you can fall into homelessness, too."
The team received a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program to complete the project and fundraised the cost of traveling to Cambridge, MA to present their prototype at EurekaFest, an annual convention to showcase the work of young inventors. Next, they are seeking a partnership or investor to mass produce and distribute their invention to those in need in their community.