In case you doubted whether the phrase “women get stuff done” held any truth, this group of teenage girls from San Fernando High School are here to remind you that yes, it freakin’ does. Twelve girls from the Los Angeles high school were recruited several years ago by DIY Girls to create a solution to a problem they noticed all too frequently in their community: homelessness. The girls then came together to engineer, solder and sew a solar-powered tent that can fold up into a backpack.
DIY Girls is a nonprofit organization which emphasizes teaching girls from low-income families and communities math, science, and engineering. With the help of Evelyn Gomez, the 29-year-old executive director of DIY Girls, the group of Los Angeles teens worked to create a prototype of a tent which would operate on solar energy and be easily transportable.
The tent includes button-powered lights, two USB ports, and a micro-USB port. The girls have even considered putting in a sanitizing UVC light.
How the drive to make a difference in their community led these young women to #STEM. All-girl #engineer team invents solar-powered tent for the homeless with @DIYGirls #WomenInTech https://t.co/c5yzaS8Ew1 pic.twitter.com/jUZ9ADpbLr— Heart_of_Giving (@Heart_of_Giving) January 25, 2018
The group received a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT program to develop the invention, and presented the impressive tent at MIT as part of a young inventors conference.
For many of the girls on the team, they will be the first member of their family to go to college. Evelyn explained why this sort of initiative is so important in increasing representation in the notoriously testosterone-filled STEM field.
“I studied aerospace engineering (at UCLA). When I was getting my master’s degree, I was often the only girl in the class and definitely the only Latina in the class. It felt like kind of imposter syndrome,” Evelyn tells Mashable. “It’s such a farfetched idea: You’re going to represent the Latina community in a bad light if you ask a stupid question or you’re going to represent women in a bad light if you ask a stupid question, and of course that’s not true. But I felt that.”
Evelyn is working to help ensure that these girls don’t ever have to feel that way in an academic environment.
“Me and (Kassandra Salazar), we’re the only two junior girls in our AP Calculus class, which has way more guys than girls,” Paola Valtierra, one of the tent engineers, tells Mashable. “But we’re gonna change that.”
12th-grader Daniela Orozco tells CBS Los Angeles that the girls hope the tents will eventually be available for mass production, and that their goal of helping the community will become a reality.
“How many people are actually trying to help them [the homeless] or make them feel better? Letting them know that people still care about them, and they are still human.”