Girls collect air quality data and prototype inventions

In honor of Air Quality Awareness Week, we’d like to share what our girls have been working on as part of our Making for Good: Clean Air project. 

In 2016, DIY Girls is focusing program content around the issue of air quality. DIY Girls serves girls primarily in the Northeast San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where many of the schools are within a perimeter made up of highly congested freeways. Our founding site, Telfair Avenue Elementary School, is less than 210 feet away from the 118 freeway. 

This year, our girls have researched air quality and its effects on health and learning by empathizing with those affected by health issues caused by poor air quality, like asthma. By doing so, they have come up with their own understanding of the problem and its importance. 

At our after school programs, girls went outside and collected air quality data around their schools using the AirBeam, a palm-sized air quality monitor. They made predictions about which areas of their school had better or worse air quality and then tested those predictions by collecting particulate matter data. Surprisingly, girls found that particulate matter was highest inside the classrooms!

Our ‘Making for Good’ initiative is challenging girls to think about air quality issues in their community by leading them through the design thinking and engineering design process. As a part of this process, girls are empathizing with those that suffer from poor air quality to invent products that might help alleviate their symptoms. A group of girls at one of our sites decided to make a product line of inhalers for children with asthma. Their goal was to disguise the inhaler so that those with asthma can medicate discretely and with style! 

Girls first drew 2D models of their designs, then modeled these designs with clay so that they could imagine what they would look like in 3D. Finally, girls made 3D models of their designs in TinkerCAD, a free online 3D modeling software. These designs will be 3D printed so that girls can refine their prototypes. This is a six week long process that empowers girls to see themselves as designers, challenges them to work despite set backs, and helps them learn something completely new!

This project would not have been possible without the support of So Cal Gas and The California Endowment. We appreciate their support!

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