High School Girls Develop a Solar Powered Shelter for the Homeless

An all-female high school engineering team invents an eco-friendly haven for the homeless in Los Angeles.

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- Posted on May 2, 2017

San Fernando High School girls around their invention

Massachusetts Institute of Technology has granted 15 teams of high school students across the country $10,000 to solve a real-world problem. When the only all-female team of engineers--12 junior and senior San Fernando High School students called DIY Girls InvenTeam—received their grant, they knew they wanted to tackle homelessness.

San Fernando sits in the northwest region of Los Angeles County, California, a county where the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority study shows there were 43,000 people who lived on the streets or in tents in 2016. Seeing homelessness first hand, the DIY Girls spent the past year, after school, spring and winter breaks building a rechargeable solar-powered tent for the homeless, with insulated fabric, a UV system and even a safety locking system.   

“I’ve learned a lot about helping others, helping the community and being selfless and showing a better world to other people and changing someone else’s life,” seventeen-year-old team member Maggie Mejia tells HuffPost of the experience.

Now, the team is reaching out to the community for help, as well. The DIY Girls are raising money on GoFundMe for travel expenses to MIT to present their solar-powered tent at EurekaFest in June, along with the other high school teams across the country.

“It’s not about us,” Mejia tells CBS Los Angeles. “It’s not about what we do or how great we can be. It’s what we can do to make this world a better place for these people, a better place for everyone.” 

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