Twelve girls from San Fernando Valley, California, saw the homeless population in their city growing daily and felt a strong connection because that could be them if their parents were to miss one bill. They didn’t want to sit back and watch people from their hometown sleeping under church doors, or underpasses. They felt the need to give the homeless something more sustainable for living. This led to their invention of a durable solar powered tent that folds up into a roll away backpack.
They were recruited by DIY Girls, a nonprofit that teaches girls from low-income communities about engineering, math, and science. Being a part of DIY Girls allowed them to go after a grant of $10,000 from Lemelson-MIT Program to be used on their invention, transforming their solar tent from an idea to a reality.
The girls work on the project 6 days a week; sewing, programming, coding and wiring. They developed two prototypes of the tent with offerings like powered lights, usb ports, and micro usb ports. When these prototypes were finished they learned a tough engineering lesson because it was time to put one of them through quality control tests and watch all that work be destroyed.
The whole process has been a learning curve for these girls, before this none of them knew how to sew, code, or 3D print but with the willingness to learn and maybe fail, they taught it all to themselves. They knew the outcome if they did succeed would be beneficial and helpful to the homeless community in San Fernando and that’s what kept them going.
After being invited to present their award and invention in person at MIT, they raised $15,000 to send their whole team there because they didn’t have the expenses to do it on their own. They were the only all female team of young inventors at the conference.
Due to this project many of these girls plan to attend college and pursue careers in engineering. This process taught them that engineering goes beyond science and numbers and the main goal is to solve a problem.
Keep up the great work girls!
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