Twelve students from San Fernando High School, a math, science, and technology magnet school in the Los Angeles area, spent all last year working on a project to create solar-powered shelters for the homeless. These16 and 17 year old girls are mostly from low-income families, and are either the daughters of immigrants or immigrants themselves. They came together and created energy-efficient shelters for those in their community who are less fortunate, without any place to live.
Violet Mardirosian, a math teacher and magnet coordinator at San Fernando High, has worked with the team since the beginning. There was a lot of work to be done, and the girls spent countless hours researching, working, writing, testing, and re-testing to get it right. They’ve given presentations to their school, as well as to a group of local engineers. Their work is so impressive that they’ve been invited to present their work at MIT this June.
These girls have not received a grade or even high school credit for their project, so the work takes place outside of their regular curriculum, after school and on weekends. When asked what motivates these ambitious students to keep going, Mardirosian says “it’s their drive and compassion.... The girls want to provide comfort and dignity to those in their community who need it the most.”
These girls’ awareness, resolve, commitment and inventiveness are inspiring, but their story also shows that exposure to STEM-related opportunities really matter, and it sends an important message to young girls around our nation: “math and engineering are for you!”
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