These High School Girls Made A Solar-Powered Tent For The Homeless

by Sarah Fielding

In recent news of girls being awesome while changing the world, 12 high school girls have created a solar powered tent for the homeless. The group is made up of juniors and seniors at San Fernando High School in California. Over a year ago the team was chosen as one of 15 United States based, young inventors to receive a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The mission was to solve a real-world problem through engineering.

Fast forward a year and the girls have spent all their free time, including winter and spring breaks, working on the project. When choosing which problem to tackle, the girls looked at their surroundings. Living in a low-income community they have had an up close look at the issues the homeless face. Enter their solar-powered tent. Created with little to no prior engineering experience, the girls used how-to videos and books to learn coding and create their prototype. Going above and beyond, this isn't any ordinary tent — not only is it made of insulated fabric and solar panels, the tent also includes a safety locking system and a UV system designed to sanitize the tent.

“How many people are actually trying to help them or make them feel better? Letting them know that people still care about them, and they are still human,” said senior Daniela Orozco when asked about the teams focus on the homeless.

The group had been invited to present their creation at MIT this June. However, coming from California, the girls were worried they would not be able to afford to make the trip to Massachusetts. They set up a GoFundMe page with a $15,000 goal to cover travel expenses. As of today they have surpassed that with over $18,000 raised.

Since starting this project each girl has expressed interest in entering the STEM field, a very male-dominated sector. “Many of them didn’t think about engineering before. They thought maybe they’re not made out to be an engineer. But working together, now they realize their skill ― whether a writing skill or a drawing skill or a speaking skill ― they’re all needed in this field. Everyone has found their importance in this picture,” Violet Mardirosian, a math teacher and magnet coordinator who has worked with the team since the start, told the HuffPost. Fittingly, the team applied for the grant in conjunction with DIY Girls, a nonprofit whose goal is to provide STEM experience to girls.

Well good news: the girls were in fact able to go to MIT and present. On June 18, Evelyn, who worked with the DIY Girls team, posted an update on their GoFundMe page: "Attending EurekaFest has been such an incredible experience. The ingenuity that is possible when students are given the time and resources to explore their passions is remarkable."

A happy ending for this project and, I'm sure, just the beginning of what these inspiring girls will accomplish. Proving that when you put your mind to something, and add in a little girl power, anything is possible.