A group of teenage girls from Los Angeles have designed a solar-powered shelter to help tackle homelessness in their local community, after witnessing a growing number of people living on the streets.
Since the summer of 2016 the 12 girls from the San Fernando High School, north west of LA, have been “working tirelessly” six days a week on the project, which has now seem them present at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Agency, there has been a 36% increase in the number of homeless people in the district from 2015, to 2016. Meaning there are now 7,100 individuals sleeping rough and a “state of emergency” has been declared.
The girls were seeing this problem develop firsthand and when their school group ‘DIY Girls’ were chosen to receive a $10,000 grant from MIT to solve real-world problems through invention, there was only one thing they wanted to work on.
And now, the girls, who had no previous engineering experience, have successfully created a prototype for a portable, solar-powered tent that folds away into a rollaway backpack.
Prior to starting the project, the girls were mostly all strangers, and none of them had ever coded, soldered, sewn or used a 3D-printer. But with the help of YouTube, Google (and lots of trial and error), they persisted.
The final product now has button-powered lights, two USB ports, a micro-USB port, and even plans for a sanitising UVC light on a countdown timer.
They said: “We believe [it] will go a long way in serving the homeless population in Los Angeles.”
Not only have the team successfully been able to create the product, but also raised enough money through GoFundMe page, to send all of them to MIT in Boston and showcase their invention at EurekaFest.
The page said: “We are from a low income community and our families cannot afford to send their girls to Boston this summer. We will not let this stop us from achieving our dream of presenting at MIT!”
All 12 girls were eventually able to go on the trip, they said: “The ingenuity that is possible when students are given the time and resources to explore their passions is remarkable.”
Other team’s inventions included a device to monitor the backseat of a car and alert the owner if a child or pet is in the car on a hot day.
And older college-age inventors created a portable real-time text-to-braille converter to help give those with visual impairments access to literature in real time.