Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López: How Child Inventor in Chiapas, Mexico is Changing Lives
February 21, 2021 ~ By Shari Rose
Child inventor Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López is changing the lives of people in Chiapas, Mexico, one water heater at a time
Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López is an elementary school student from Chiapas, Mexico with more than just an interest in science. Through her scientific inventions, she is actively improving the lives of those in her community and bringing real social change to people who need it most.
Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López’s Early Scientific Inventions
Xóchitl (pronounced soh-chee) Guadalupe Cruz López began her science career at a young age with her parents’ support. She joined Adopt a Talent Program (PAUTA), which provides long-term mentorships and learning opportunities for Mexican students interested in science. Through this STEM-like program, Mexican science professionals connected with Xóchitl and continue to support her scientific projects and endeavors today.
Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz lives in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The Mexican state of Chiapas is the poorest of the country’s 32 regions with a poverty rate of more than 75%. It is also home to the largest indigenous populations in Mexico. The majority of people living in the Chiapas region do not have reliable running water, and less than 30% of all Native Mexican children graduate high school.
Despite the limited resources available to her, 7-year-old Xóchitl built her own science lab in her family’s home for her first project. She successfully extracted and preserved flower aromas, calling this project “Xóchitl’s Essence.” It won first prize at the PAUTA statewide fair, and Xóchitl had the opportunity to meet the founders of PAUTA.
However, it was Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López’s second science project that propelled her to the international stage.
Xóchitl’s Solar-Powered Water Heater Invention: Warm Bath
At 8 years old, Xóchitl wanted her next science project to have a positive impact on her community in the Chiapas region. She decided to help the most disadvantaged in her neighborhood have access to warm water without the need to cut down trees and build fires. So, Xóchitl formulated the idea of a solar-powered water heater made of readily available materials from the area.
In an interview with El Universal, Xóchitl explained her hypothesis: “These are low-income people who don’t have the possibility to buy these heaters, so what they do is cut the trees to get firewood, which affects the world through climate change. So, what I did is make this project, this heater, from recycled objects that don’t hurt the environment.”
In addition to reducing negative effects on the climate, Xóchitl also pointed to the high rate of respiratory illnesses in the Chiapas region as a basis for her project. In an interview with Imagen News, she said: “In San Cristóbal, it’s very cold most of the year so if people shower with cold water they can get sick with respiratory illnesses and constantly have to go to the doctor.”
In 2017, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López constructed a solar-powered water heater made entirely with recycled materials from the area. She calls her invention “Warm Bath,” and it consists of water bottles, a rubber hose, logs, black paint, and cheap plastic materials. It costs only $30 to build. With a little help from her father, she installed the prototype water heater to the roof of her family’s home.
Xóchitl Receives Recognition for Water Heater Invention
Xóchitl’s Warm Bath science project won first prize at PAUTA’s annual state fair. She then advanced to the national fair, where her solar-powered water heater won first prize again.
In March 2018, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López became the first child to ever receive a prestigious prize from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) for her invention. UNAM’s Institute of Nuclear Sciences awarded Xóchitl with the “Reconocimiento ICN a la Mujer” prize, which recognizes Mexican women in science who complete extraordinary work and research.
Xóchitl’s father, Lucio Guadalupe, is very, very proud of his daughter. As an indigenous teacher in the Chiapas region, Guadalupe says he worked to support Xóchitl’s scientific endeavors, despite having limited resources and access. In an interview with Milenio, he said “I’m very proud of my daughter because here in Chiapas it’s very difficult to excel in science … the truth is that we’ve learned a lot with her.”
Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López Today
Now an 11-year-old, Xóchitl is looking to patent her solar-powered Warm Bath invention so that these water heaters can be rolled out to people in Chiapas who need them most. She continues to excel in science and loves the pursuit of knowledge.
The story of Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López demonstrates the importance of providing STEM and similar science programs to young people without many resources. Brilliance isn’t reserved just for those with the means – the pursuit of science should be readily available to all who are interested, regardless of wealth or access. Everyone deserves a chance at changing the world for the better.
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