Xochitl Guadalupe Cruz, an 8-year-old from Mexico, received this week the Woman Prize of the Nuclear Science Institute (ICN) for her scientific accomplishments.
Xochitl Guadalupe Cruz is from the Chiapas highlands, in southeastern Mexico, and is in third grade in a rural school. She has shown a great interest in science since an early age and has been part of country's Adopt a Talent Program (PAUTA) for young intelligent kids since she was 4 years old.
“I'm very happy to win these prizes. I never thought I would come this far, this is an unexplainable emotion,” said Xochilt. PAUTA is a program run by the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It was created in 2007 with the aim of developing the scientific abilities of children and teenagers. To do so, they use a mentorship program, in which they “adopt” a child to guide them in different science projects with a social impact objective.
Xochilt has won several science fair prizes since taking part in PAUTA, but she also utilized her smarts at home, helping her family. She built a solar water heater with two glass doors, few bottles, a hose, and a tank.
She says her father helped her install the heater on the rooftop because she was afraid of climbing the ladder by herself. Xochitl is now thinking about building a new heater with solar panels, so she's looking for financial support from universities and researchers.
The idea of making the solar heater came to her because of her environmental concerns. “There are people with low resources that have no chance at buying heating systems, so they cut down trees to get firewood and therefore they hurt the world with global warming,” Xochilt said explianing that she built the heater with recycled materials to help the environment and lower its cost.
Jesus Iradier Santiago, state coordinator of PAUTA, says there are a lot of children and teenagers with great academic and scientific abilities in Mexico, and that this “natural resource” is lost because they don't usually get the right attention and opportunities from both their families and government.
Lucio Guadalupe, the father of Xochitl, said families should “support the little ones, who are the future,” and that they have unconditionally supported Xochitl since the beginning.