By Ximena Leyva
At the precocious age of ten, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz is helping her community to get ahead with her homegrown inventions, the latest of which is a water heater called “Baño Calientito” (Nice Hot Bath) made from low-cost, environmentally-friendly materials.
“It’s cold for most of the year in San Cristóbal de las Casas,” Xóchitl Guadalupe told Expansión. “There are low-income families who take cold showers and use cold water for everything, so children and the elderly often come down with respiratory illnesses.”
Baño Calientito has a ten-liter capacity, two glass doors and output pipes connected to containers, a hosepipe running into the water tank, and bottles. The project was overseen by Doctor Nein Farrera of the Renewable Energies Institute at the Chiapas Arts and Sciences University (UNICACH).
During her talk at the 2019 SingularityU Mexico Summit, the girl from San Cristóbal de las Casas said that she first became interested in science at preschool when she got involved in workshops run by the Adopt a Talent Program (PAUTA).
“My godmother, who worked at my preschool, told my parents and me that some kids had come to get people interested in science, so my parents asked me if I was interested. I said I was and that was when my love of science was born,” she said in an interview.
For his part, Robotix CEO Roberto Saint Martin told Expansión that only 1% of children in Mexico are interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas. Research on preschool children has found that they are more motivated and interested in these activities when they feel that they form part of a group.
The lag in STEM abilities in the Mexican population is reflected by international studies that measure progress in education. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) took a survey in 2015, when Mexico unfortunately scored 416 points in science, 408 in mathematics and 423 in reading, while the average OECD grade was between 493 and 490 in the three subjects.
For its part, the OECD expressed regret that the country is still lagging 2.5 years behind in terms of student learning.
Xóchitl has nonetheless come up with other inventions like her “Essence of Xóchitl”, which involves extracting essence from flowers like “tuberoses, angel’s trumpets, and roses”. She says that she got the idea because modern perfumes contain a lot of alcohol that cause irritation or produce an allergic reaction in some people.
This ten-year-old girl says that when she grows up, she sees herself as a great doctor and scientist finding cures for new diseases.
The UNAM Nuclear Sciences Institute gave Cruz the Women’s Recognition Award for “Baño Calientito”. This award is only given to women who demonstrate outstanding aptitudes for scientific dissemination.
The girl is currently still working on the development of her project because she wants it to be bigger, with a 50-liter capacity, making use of water rotation and taking advantage of solar energy.
“I want to provide the water heater to families who need it and to make people aware of what’s wrong in the world so that they want to help the environment,” said Xóchitl.