Last week, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President-Elect of Mexico participated in his first Educational Forum in Chiapas, Mexico. This forum is part of a series of debates that Lopez Obrador is launching on a variety of topics important to Mexico’s welfare. This forum’s focus was on the topic of Education.
Speaking at the event were faculty members, parents, teachers, and a very special guest, 9-year-old, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López, a brilliant 4th grader who has received prestigious awards for her invention of a solar heater.
Since the age of 4, Xochitl has been attending scientific workshops offered through PAUTA, short for, Adopt a Talent, an educational initiative promoted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to bring science education to girls and boys from all over Mexico by a group of educators, psychologists and scientists who mentor students interested in developing scientific talents during school, after graduation and through the university.
Xóchitl’s curiosity found a home in PAUTA where she was inspired to solve a local problem: her community’s lack of access to hot water by designing a water heater made out of low-cost recycled materials powered by the use of sunlight.
Xóchitl Guadalupe wanted to create a solution that was good for the environment and for low-income families in her community of Chiapas. After trial and error, and with the help of her father, the solar heater was finally installed on the roof of her house.
Xóchitl wants to do more. She hopes to get the support– training, and material–to help her neighbors next.
In her speech below, Xóchitl told president-elect, Lopez Obrador, that her beloved PAUTA is facing possible closure due to lack of funding. In front of hundreds of educators, parents, and guests, she asked Lopez Obrador to remember the children, remember science and to do what he can to save PAUTA.
Xóchitl’s speech starts at 1:30:06. Below, is Xóchitl’s speech to Lopez Obrador translated into English.
Nuestra participación en el primer Foro de Consulta Educativa https://t.co/qQnnbrRLrw
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) August 28, 2018
“Good Morning. My name is Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López. I am in 4th grade and I am 9 years old. I am very happy to be able to speak with all of you, and with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his entire team. Currently, our country has many needs, including the economy, security, and education. I am sure that you, as our president, and your team, will make our country better for everyone.
Children are the future of Mexico, so I feel it is very important to pay close attention to our upbringing and preparation, a work that is done day by day and thanks to our family, school, and our social environment.
As children, we are very curious. We like to ask questions and investigate what is beyond what we see. These abilities are something we are born with. But as we get older, we lose our childhood curiosity and interest in scientific research. Why?
Sometimes, when I have questions, it is very easy to find answers. I ask my dad, my mom, my teacher or a friend who has the internet and can look up answers for me.
More than ten years ago, scientific researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) promoted an initiative to bring science to girls and boys from all over Mexico. This initiative was called, PAUTA, and it began in the city of Mexico, spread to Michoacan, then to our beloved, Chiapas, followed by Morelos and now in Queretaro.
In PAUTA I have had the opportunity to develop my science skills, like how to observe, ask, hypothesize, check or refute my hypothesis, collect data, analyze them, make my conclusions and share my experiences with my classmates through social impact projects, based on themes of our interest. We present our projects at the State and National Science Fairs organized by PAUTA at the end of the school year.
The truth is that science is something very beautiful and exciting.
I am very happy to have learned about PAUTA when I was 4 years old. Now I’ve been in PAUTA for five years, and besides soccer, it is one of my favorite activities. In PAUTA I have the support of workshop leaders and counselors. Thanks to PAUTA I have discovered things that I never imagined possible.
I have had the opportunity to grow, travel for the first time by plane and to know other places like La Paz, Baja California, Mexico City and, of course, the Latin American tower that at first scared me, but then I did not want to leave.
In my PAUTA classes, I have developed several projects. When I was 7, I made a perfume that I called, The Essence of Xochil. I won the State Fair and I went to Mexico City for the first time. I was very scared because my parents were not with me. I cried some nights but I met some friends from other places.
When I was 8 years old it occurred to me to build a solar heater for my house because we did not have one. We used to heat water with electricity so it was very expensive.
My project was called: Warm Bath (Baño Calentito)
With this project, I won the state fair, and the national and the science Expo. Then, the nuclear science institute of the UNAM awarded me the prize for Woman in Science. With this recognition, I gave me many interviews. I visited the Senate of the republic, I took many photos, I went to the radio, television and I did an interview for the History Channel and another for TV3, from Barcelona, Spain. I did not understand anything because they spoke another language. I also had the support of my mentor, a scientist from the University of Sciences and Art of Chiapas who helped me to improve my solar heater. And I learned many things with him.
For this school year since I am nine years old and I want to do the third phase of my project: to install my solar heater in homes of indigenous communities in Chiapas so that people will no longer get sick from the respiratory illnesses because they bathe with cold water. I know my project is expensive, but I will try.
However, I was very sad at the last national fair when I learned that PAUTA is going through difficult times and will not be able to continue in Chiapas because of lack of resources to support children and women like me.
Mr. President-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. My classmates and I, who are passionate about the sciences, come to you with great respect. We ask you not to forget Mexico’s children and youth. Your support would be invaluable for new children to attend PAUTA, but also for the children like me who have been in PAUTA for several years so that we can continue to develop our scientific projects. We also ask that you give the opportunity to children from many schools in other municipalities of Chiapas and, and why not, from other states in the Mexican Republic, to get to know and fall in love with PAUTA as I did.
Finally, I would like to tell you that PAUTA is a ray of light for all the children and girls from Mexico. God bless you. Thank you so much, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López.”
Xóchitl walked off the stage with roaring applause from the audience. She walked up to President-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and handed him her speech. Lopez Obrador had a big smile, shook little Xóchitl’s hand and gave her a kiss. We hope that he won’t forget her nor the amazing work that PAUTA is doing in schools across Mexico.
Currently, PAUTA works with girls and indigenous women with outstanding aptitudes. They identify and support 20 indigenous women from Chiapas who show outstanding aptitude and help them develop scientific, social, critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills. It is the only program of its kind that offers a monthly scholarship to help support the students so that they can complete their studies
In PAUTA, students solve problems as a team and through observing, asking, explaining, planning, predicting, experimenting, interpreting, debating, and generating ideas to arrive at different solutions. The focus is on science, but they also seek to develop other skills, too, like communicative, critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills.
“We adopt talent by creating positive conditions to follow our participants throughout their academic life. We accompany them from basic education until they finish their university studies.” PAUTA.
As Lopez Obrador reviews Mexico’s national budget, we hope that programs, such as PAUTA will be saved, revitalized and replicated nationwide. Xóchitl is a vibrant example of what Mexico’s next generation can accomplish with scientific training, mentoring and coaching.