Science students in south Mississippi have created a vending machine to provide free hygiene products to the homeless.
Robotics students at Gulfport High School created the machine for a national contest, The Sun Herald reported.
Their teacher, Clinton Brawley, challenged them to build a device that meets a community need by using STEAM research- an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
The robotics class decided to create something specifically for the 143 homeless students in the Gulfport School District.
“They found out just how many students are homeless here in our own district, and they immediately wanted to do something to help,” said Susan Bush, Gulfport student coordinator and adviser to the National Technical Honours Society.
The machine dispenses toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, disposable razors, bars of soap and feminine hygiene products.
For now, the machine operates on tokens given to district counsellors, who know which students are homeless.
The robotics students hope to eventually expand their project into the community. They plan to power the machines with solar panels and add a shower that uses rainwater or reusable water.
Ashley Brock was one of the students who came up with the idea.
“We all met and brainstormed issues in our community,” Brock said. “One of the prominent ones was homelessness. We wanted some sort of device that the homeless would have access to 24/7.”