8-Year-Old Scientist from Mexico Bags a Nuclear Science Award for Her Work on Solar-Powered Water Heaters
A potato clock here, a model volcano there… Genius children always take on these cute science projects to show their interests in the field. While we love to see them all, some kids don’t relate with the idea of starting small.
Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz from Chiapas, Mexico, has gone above and beyond what you would expect from an 8-year-old with her work on a solar-powered water heater.
The little brainiac lives in San Cristó bal de las Casas, Chiapas where she goes to elementary school as a fourth-grader. She has always shown a keen interest in science since she was four years old. The PAUTA program (Adopt a Talent Program) in particular has helped her hone her skills over the years. 
Xóchitl was recently recognized by Mexico’s National Autonomous University, UNAM’s Institute of Nuclear Sciences, for her impressive work on a solar-powered water heating system. The prestigious ‘Scientific Woman’ award in science is one typically bestowed upon adults which makes it an incredible feat for someone so young. This came after the little girl won first place in both the State and National Science Fairs for her category. 
The ‘Warm Bath’
The Warm Bath, as Xóchitl appropriately named her invention, is one that could foster a positive economic impact for her people. The cold climate of Chiapas inspired Xóchitl to come up with the idea. The basic design consists of a 15-meter black hose, a little over half a dozen PET bottles, some cable ties, black nylon, recycled glass, and a sturdy base made out of wood.
Xóchitl set out to create something that would not require electricity so that the majority of her townspeople could afford it. When installed on rooftops, the cheap solar-powered water heaters can heat up to 10 liters of water to somewhere between 35°C and 45°C.
A big dreamer
Xóchitl is not just a smart little girl with gifted hands. Hearing her speak might just be the icing on the cake here. Xóchitl appears to be much more profound and well-versed than her age would suggest.
On why she invented the solar-powered water heater, 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. I want to help with my knowledge because there are a lot of poor people here.”
Her father, Lucio, an indigenous education teacher at a local preschool is extremely proud of his little girl’s achievements. In fact, her entire family, community and country are thrilled by her display of excellence at such a young age. 
The UNAM award was just one of the many she has received so far on the project. Xóchitl has also been honored and awarded at the National Science Fair in La Paz California Sur. She has been interviewed by several media outlets, both local and international. 
More information on solar-water heaters
Solar-water heaters work by absorbing light from a collector placed on a rooftop and converting the energy into heat. This heat is then transferred to water tanks through a circulating pump to heat the water within.  This ingenious use of solar technology eliminates the need for electricity to power any electrical devices and machines. In the United States alone, water heating accounts for 14% of the average household energy use and 4% of gross energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
With the advent of solar energy, this number has become an unnecessary expense that ought to be phased out. Another plus is the huge impact of solar energy on the environment. Solar water heaters have the potential to reduce electricity and fuel use by over 50%. This reduces the pollution from burning fuel, thereby reducing the impact of global warming across the globe. 
As for Xóchitl, there’s no stopping this trailblazer. She fully intends to work harder on her invention until it’s developed enough to be used commercially. To that, we say kudos and bravo!
- “8-YEAR-OLD MEXICAN GIRL WINS NUCLEAR SCIENCES PRIZE FOR INVENTING A SOLAR WATER HEATER.” Truth Theory. Mayukh Saha. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
- “Meet Mexico’s New Famous Inventor. She’ll Finish Third Grade This Year.” WLRN. Tim Padgett. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
- “Scientist, 9, awarded for solar water heater.” Mexico News Daily. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
- “XÓCHITL GUADALUPE CRUZ LÓPEZ.” La Ciudad de las Ideas. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
- “How It Works — Solar Water Heaters.” Energy Star. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
- “Solar Water Heating.” UCS USA. Editor. Retrieved August 1, 2020.