After weeks of deliberation, we decided that homelessness in Los Angeles is an issue that we should focus on because it is a daily reality we all must confront. We see homeless people in our community - at church, on the streets, and in our families. In particular, the San Fernando Valley saw a 36 percent increase in homelessness this year, to 7,100 residents. According to the Los Angeles-based non-profit organization Economic Roundtable, which conducted a ten-year study of county residents on public assistance that was released this year, 13,000 people fall homeless every month (Holland & Jamison, 2016). Local leaders, moreover, regard alleviating the plight of the homeless in Los Angeles as a “state of emergency.” We have reached out to various agencies in Los Angeles that provide services to homeless individuals. We have read many articles, listened to podcasts, and interviewed various service providers that know the struggles of the homeless population intimately; these conversations have influenced the design of the tent greatly.
DIY Girls is inventing a tent made of insulating, durable material with integrated solar powered devices and lighting that can collapse into a backpack. This invention is made to benefit displaced people: homeless, refugees, or immigrants. This invention would be useful in any place where people are without a permanent home, whether it may be on Skid Row in Los Angeles or all the way across the world in Refugee Camps of Greece. The tent is stored within the backpack and will be easily accessible. Time and effort needed to set the tent up will be minimal. Solar panels and a battery pack will be integrated into the backpack and will power various electrical devices, including: a small fan to provide circulation, a phone charger, white LED lighting, and UV lighting to disinfect and sanitize the tent. All electrical components will be housed in weatherproof sleeves and in the seams of the backpack. Certain specifications of the invention will become clearer as we continue to develop relationships with service providers in homeless shelters and refugee camps. Our solar powered backpack tent is very desirable for anyone in need of a home and provides portable shelter to displaced people in any region or country.
Our project will be determined as successful by receiving good feedback. This feedback may come from homeless individuals from our community who see that our backpack tent will benefit their needs, and homeless organizations who support our ideas. Our performance indicators that monitor our projects effectiveness will be made through observations. Seeing that individuals are making great use of our project by using it as a temporary home will ensure that our invention meets its criteria. Therefore, because this is our ultimate goal, the progress and effectiveness will be determined by observations.
1. Passions Exploration. Brainstormed ideas about potential problems to solve and categorized issues into broader themes.
2. Identified the issue that we were most passionate about solving.
3. Conducting further background research.
a. Interviews with homeless individuals about the challenges they face.
b. Interviews with family members about struggles as they migrated.
c. Reading articles from reputable sources regarding assessment of needs of homeless individuals.
4. Identification of potential solutions and the purpose of our invention/solution.
5. Develop High Level Requirements.
6. Initial contact with Refugee Forum of Los Angeles (RFLA) and San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission (SFVRM).
7. Develop technical solutions based on the High Level Requirements.
8. Formalize relationships: RFLA and SFVRM.
9. Begin meeting twice a week after school.
10. Assign roles and subgroups.
11. Research different materials that will achieve the High Level Requirements.
12. Begin posting to different social media sites to update public and collaboration partners on progress and setbacks.
13. Start fundraising for the project. Girls Build LA application due.
November 2016 - December 2016
14. Schedule first trip to USC The Homeless Studio.
15. Backpack tent take apart.
16. Crash course in how solar panels work.
17. Experiment with different materials that would satisfy the Materials requirement.
18. Hold Preliminary Design Review.
19. Order prototype materials.
20. Complete functional prototype of tent and solar powered devices.
21. Test prototype to ensure that High Level Requirements are met.
22. Practice for Technical review: create presentation, reflect on milestone experiences, and achievements.
23. Present Prototype A to SFVRM and RFLA.
24. Hold Technical Review. Invite SFHS/MIT Alum to give feedback for improvement.
March and April 2017
25. Revise and finalize design.
26. Build Prototype B based on feedback from technical review and presentations.
27. Continue testing Prototype B.
28. Prepare for presentations for Final Design Review and EurekaFest.
29. Finalize demonstration model.
30. Final written project to Girls Build LA.
30. Hold Final Design Review to verify that all requirements were met.
31. Final presentations at Girls Build LA!
32. Final presentations at EurekaFest!