Written By: Kim Osborn-Mullen
There is no shortage of young people passionate about fighting today’s world issues. Fortunately, many are combining their desire to help humanity with scientific skills resulting in inventions tackling the biggest threat to their future: the Climate Crisis.
It was a tough task narrowing down who and what to highlight, so here is a very small sampling of young minds working on big ideas!
Hannah Herbst, 18, Florida
Ocean Energy System
Several years ago, when Hannah was 15, she was inspired to find a sustainable energy source after learning her Ethiopian pen pal did not have access to lights. Finding that much of the world’s population lives near a water source, Hannah came up with a pipe/propeller system that uses tidal water to generate electricity. She calls it the Beacon, Bringing Electricity Access to Countries through Ocean Energy. She 3-D printed a prototype and successfully tested it in an intercoastal waterway. The invention won her a $25,000 Science Award. Herbst is now an 18-year-old college student and has two more inventions under her belt.
Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz, 8, Mexico
Solar-powered water heater
Using recycled materials such as glass, wood, and hoses, Cruz built a solar-powered water heater, creating the potential to allow rural communities better access to hot water and, Cruz says,
“People won’t have to chop down trees to heat their water anymore.” The invention could help deforested countries that currently use wood as an energy source. Cruz’s ingenuity lead her to receive a first-time award recognizing Women in Science from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Jaya Choudhary, 14, Michigan
Robotic Airflow Control
Looking to address energy efficiency and the climate crisis. Jaya Choudhary used robotics. She invented a robotic airflow control
system that will allow heating and cooling only in occupied rooms. The invention could drastically cut down energy usage, reduce energy demand leading to fewer fossil fuels burned. “My project is an attempt to reduce the effects of two imminent threats to humanity: the global energy crisis and climate change,” said Choudhary. Her motivation comes from her concern for the future, “These problems are both extremely important to me because if they aren’t solved, they will have disastrous effects on our planet.” Choudhary is a finalist in the 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
Fionn Ferreira, 18, Ireland
Reducing ocean microplastic
Kayaking off the coast of Ireland, 18-year-old Fionn Ferreira found a rock covered with oil, (from a recent spill) that had dozens of microplastic pieces stuck to the oil.
“It got me thinking,” he said, “in chemistry, like attracts like.”
So tweaking a 1960’s NASA magnetic fluid to make it non-toxic, Ferreira developed a liquid that draws microplastic out of wastewater before it reaches our oceans. His experiments showed his liquid removed 88% of microplastic from his water samples, though he hypothesized he could only remove about 85%. For his efforts, he won the 2019 Google Science Fair award and received $50,000.
Like the millions of young people worldwide planning to take to the streets on September 20, these young scientists know the grim reality of the climate crisis. They are busy in their labs, classrooms, and communities striving to make a difference.
Below are links focussing on more young people and their inventions aimed at tackling the Climate Crisis.