Things That Matter

These Latina Teens Invented A High-Tech Tent, But It’s Not For Fancy Camping Trips

A group of 12 Latina teens from San Fernando High School in Southern California have invented a solar-powered tent that has insulated fabric, solar panels, a safety locking system and even includes a UV sanitizing system.

This tent is sure to be the envy of camping enthusiasts everywhere, but it wasn’t invented for folks that camp out in the elements for fun. It was invented for those who don’t have the means to live anywhere other than on the streets: the homeless.

This group of caring student engineers is the only all-female team out of 15 teams to be awarded a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant from the Massachusettes Institute of Technology to develop their invention. The grants are awarded to teams of “high school students, educators, and mentors that receive up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing.”

Homelessness, the real-world problem the girls chose to find a solution to, hits close to home because last year, the San Fernando Valley saw a rise in the homeless population. The tent was created to serve this population in particular. “It’s not about us. 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,” says 12th-grader and team member Maggie Mejia.

What’s next for these socially conscious teenage inventors? They would like to head to Cambridge, Mass. in June to present their invention at EurekaFest with all the other InvenTeams, but money is an issue. The girls come from low-income families that can’t afford the cost of the trip. They’re not giving up, though and are determined to raise the funds they need to head to Boston.

They need to raise a minimum of $15,000 to get themselves to Boston. You can help by donating to their GoFundMe page here.


Find out more about the all-female high school engineering team here.

Don’t forget to share their incredible story by clicking the button below!

‘Our Quinceañera’ Is A Documentary Featuring A Principal Who Has Been Throwing Quinces For Students Who Can’t Afford Them

Culture

‘Our Quinceañera’ Is A Documentary Featuring A Principal Who Has Been Throwing Quinces For Students Who Can’t Afford Them

In the small Mexican-American town of San Benito in Texas, many girls dream of the day that they will make their debut as women to their family and community. But the tabs for orders of gowns, crowns, food, decorations, and DJs often run so high that for awhile such events for the girls in town were out of reach.

Then, Gilbert Galvan, the principal of San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy, came up with an idea that meant that not a single girl would be forced to miss out on the opportunity to take part in the tradition.

Since 2015, San Benito has hosted an annual quinceañera event for young girls and their families.

CREDIT: Avenida Productions

Nearly five years ago, Gilbert Galvan Sr. found himself being invited to quinceañeras by the students at his school. Then one day, some of the answers from the young women at his school caught his attention. After a few of his female students opened up to him about the fact that they did not have enough money to afford a quinceañera, Galvan Sr. was inspired to do put on a party for them on his own.

In just a matter of months, the educator sought out donations from his community to put on one massive quinceañera. Donations and gifts came in all forms– from cakes and dresses to crowns and the volunteered time of makeup artists and mariachi singers. That was the first year.

In the years that have followed, Galvan Sr. has continued to put on the event where as many as 40 girls have attended at a time. Today, donations for the girls come in from across the country.

The community quinceañera has gained so much attention that it’s now becoming captured in a documentary.

CREDIT: Avenida Productions

As reported by FIERCE by mitú last year, Galvan’s son, Gilbert Galvan Jr. —who has worked in the entertainment industry for ten years— was inspired by his father’s efforts and pitched the event as a documentary concept to Fanny Véliz, the award-winning filmmaker and CEO behind Avenida Productions. Now, having been directed by Véliz and given the name “Our Quinceañera” appears to be closer to its release. According to the documentary’s site, the film is in submission for festivals!

During an interview with FIERCE last year, Galvan Jr. said he hoped the documentary will inspire viewers to “embrace their heritage and celebrate the power of community… We want to document this historic event while empowering and inspiring Latina girls across the country to pursue and achieve their dreams.”

Check out the full trailer below!

[VIDEO] Watch The Moment High School Students A NYC School Nerd Out And Lose Their Cool When Lin-Manuel Showed Up For Their Play

Entertainment

[VIDEO] Watch The Moment High School Students A NYC School Nerd Out And Lose Their Cool When Lin-Manuel Showed Up For Their Play

@jonmchu / Twitter

As you may have heard, there’s an “In The Heights” movie in the works. The production, produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Jon M. Chu, will start shooting later this summer. While they have their main cast in place, they just had a casting call for extras. They specifically said they were looking for Latinos and would be in Washington Heights for the open call. Since they were in the area for the casting call, which is where the movie will be shot as well, the movie’s VIP crew had some time to check in on another important group.

Lin-Manuel Miranda stopped by during a school production of “In The Heights” at George Washington High School in New York and surprised the cast.

Twitter/@dancerrubi1414

“We saw In The Heights in the Heights for the first time, with kids from all over the neighborhood,” Miranda tweeted. “It’s cool I only cried 10 times. These kids were so good. Our future is so bright.”

Jon M. Chu, director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” tweeted the moment when Miranda stepped onstage.

Some of the students were clearly surprised to see Miranda there, although not everyone, and we think we know why. If you watch the clip, Chu shoots the entire audience as well as the cast on stage. There were a lot of special guests in the audience, one of them being Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Lin’s dad. So, we’re not sure how much of this surprise was kept under wraps.

Other special guests included Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the screenplay for the new “In The Heights” movie.

We’re wondering if some of the students will be cast in the new movie. Why not? They need extras and clearly, these kids know a thing or two about the story. Might as well give a chance.

We also loved seeing all the selfies of Miranda with all of the students.

“Love working with you guys. #intheheights #intheheightsmusical,” Rubi Camila Perez Guzman shared on Instagram.

This kind of happiness is the best.

“Words cannot describe how thankful I am to be part of the show In The Heights,” Rebecca said on her social media page. “I got the opportunity to be part of a group of greats actors that are my family now. We worked for almost 4 months on this project and it was all worth it at the end to give this surprise to Lin Manuel Miranda. May 31 will be a night that I’ll never forget.”

What a spectacular night for Miranda, the cast of “In the Heights,” and the students.

“Had such an amazing time working with these amazing talented people,” Alexia Stewart posted on Instagram. “Thank you guys soooo much for accepting me into your family at such short notice. I love you all and I can’t wait till next year when I see you guys again.”

READ: We Finally Got A Peek At Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Casting Picks For ‘In The Heights’ The Play That Made Him Famous

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