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Meet Mexico's New Famous Inventor. She'll Finish Third Grade This Year.

UNAM Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares
Eight-year-old Mexican inventor Xochitl Guadalupe Cruz

Friday is International Women’s Day, an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of women – and girls. One young lady from southern Mexico is turning heads in the world of science.

Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz is Mexico’s most talked-about inventor right now.

She’s also 8 years old.

But that didn’t stop Mexico’s largest university last month from giving Xóchitl its first award recognizing women in science. The young indigenous girl from Chiapas state in southern Mexico built a solar-powered water heater from recyclable materials - an invention that promises to do more than just give folks in that poor rural region better access to hot water.

“People won’t have to chop down trees to heat their water anymore,” Xóchitl told Mexico’s Imagen news channel, demonstrating the box-like glass-and-wood device and its impressive arrangement of hoses and bottles.

That caught the eye of the Nuclear Sciences Institute at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, or UNAM, and its Adopt a Talent Program (PAUTA). The potential economic and environmental benefits of Xóchitl’s invention are big for other developing – and deforested – countries like Haiti.

It could also help promote oft-neglected science education for girls.

For those surprised by Xóchitl’s age, she points out she’s actually a veteran: She says she’s been entering science competitions since she was four.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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