27 Apr Combatting Sexual Assault: Girls Build Team Designs GPS Tracker
By Scarlett Park, countywide program manager
For Girls Build teams, there is no challenge too big or daunting to try and tackle. To combat the high incidence of harassment and sexual assault in California’s San Fernando Valley, the Girls Build Team at San Fernando High School is constructing its own GPS-tracked safety device for young women in middle and high school. Made up of 24 students in 9th-12th grade, the SFHS Girls Invent Team sought to use 21st-century leadership skills and STEM principles to make walking a safer experience for girls in their community. The team first surveyed community members to inform their work, noting that 60% of their respondents indicated that they have either experienced harassment and/or assault on the streets, or know of someone who has. They also found that 44% of the girls surveyed felt unsafe in their neighborhoods.
The team engineered a solution to create a security accessory that would allow young women to feel safer walking in their communities. Their device features an emergency button with a GPS locator designed to alert authorities and trusted contacts to the coordinates of the user, a hidden camera, and a corresponding app. Dividing themselves into hardware and software teams, the girls are using what they’ve learned in their computer science and engineering classes to build out the different components of the device together. While functionally powerful, its discreet design also allows the accessory to double as a stylish necklace.
With funding from Girls Build, the team was able to purchase the necessary supplies. But, with their project requiring constant coding and programming, the Toughbook donation from Panasonic allows the team to have much-needed computer access of their own. Their coordinator, Violet Mardirosian says that the Toughbook “allows us to move forward with our project and helps us prove that women can make a difference in our community.”
“We are so thankful that the work we are doing as young, Latina girls from a low socio-economic neighborhood is being recognized,” said the team. “It is with a great amount of joy that we thank Girls Build and Panasonic.”
To keep up with the SFHS Girls Invent Team and other Girls Build projects, visit girls-build.org and follow us on Instagram @girls_build!