An app that detects disease in crops and a tool that uses fish scales to scavenge heavy metals from wastewater are just two of the bright ideas from this year’s Children’s Climate Prize finalists.
Young people aged 12 to 17 submitted their environmental and climate solutions to the Children’s Climate Foundation competition, founded by Swedish renewable energy provider Telge Energi.
Last year the SEK 100,000 (€9,360) prize went to 15-year-old Reshma Kosaraju from California for her “innovative and savvy” use of AI to fight wildfires.
The 2022 entrepreneurial finalists come from the WE, India and Pakistanselected from a list of nominees from all continents and more than 30 different countries.
“This year’s finalists are truly talented people in their own fields and in their own ways,” said jury member Vinisha Umashankar, who won the 2020 award with her. solar energy invention of an ironing trolley, aiming to improve the air quality.
“These children can do anything and so can we,” adds Stella Axelsson, president of the Swedish Federation of Young Scientists. “I think the more people realize this, the more change we’re going to make.”
Read on if you’re ready to feel inspired by the next generation’s brightest ideas.
Jacqueline Prawira, 17, from Mountain House, USA: Extracting toxic metals from wastewater
Water pollution is one of the main problems contributing to water shortage.
As industrialization spread, heavy metal spread Pollutionand most wastewater treatment plants do not have the legal procedures or protocols to stop it. Toxic concentrations are released to the environment that persist for generations and bioaccumulate in food chain.
That’s where Jacqueline’s Cyclo.Cloud comes in: a fish scale waste formula that can absorb up to 82% of heavy metals from contaminated wastewater, making it safe to drink again.
“Cyclo.Cloud is a fantastic example of a systems approach where Jacqueline has created a circular economy which responds to several global challenges related to the climate and environment“, said the jury.
“By turning waste fish scales into a biosorbent material, she has created a solution that is easy to use and applicable to many,” meaning “the potential to make a difference globally is great.”
Sparsh, 17, from Patna, India: Converting thermal energy from the sun into electrical energy
The need for green, clean energy couldn’t be clearer after a devastating summer of climate change Forest fires, droughts and floods.
Solar energy breakthroughs are coming in droves from scientists, but 17-year-old Sparsh spotted a niche with his thermal float. The device efficiently converts thermal energy from the sun into electrical energy and can be easily installed on any indoor or stagnant body of water.
The module is only 15cm by 15cm and can be connected to multiple units to generate even more energy. In a range of modules, the system can produce electricity up to 10 kWh per day; three times more effective than a classic solar panel same size.
In addition to generating energy, floats have the additional environmental benefits of reducing evaporation (thereby increasing the availability of water for other uses) and reducing algae bloom in fresh water.
“Ongoing discussions about renewable energy energy sources, soaring energy prices and growing demand for electricity make Sparsh’s innovation indispensable,” said the judging panel. “The whole idea of a floating device is brilliant and innovative, using water surfaces, such as dam reservoirs, sewage treatment ponds or drinking water reservoirs and thus reducing the pressure on the earth resources.
Samyak Shrimali, 17, from Portland, USA: An app to identify crop diseases and their treatment
Crop Diseases are a major threat to humans food safety. Around the world, substantial amounts of agricultural yield are lost due to pests, pathogens and other bacteriaa situation made worse by our overconfidence on only a handful of crops.
Correct identification of a disease is the first step to effective treatment, but remains difficult in many countries due to limited access to agricultural experts and professional infrastructure.
PlantifyAI is a mobile application that uses deep learning AI algorithms to efficiently and accurately detect crop diseases in plants. When detected, the app also provides treatment steps, common symptoms, and access to recommended healing products.
The jury praised Samyak’s systematized “detect-prevent-cure” approach and its potential application to diverse local environments. The free, easy-to-use and widely accessible tool can be put directly into the hands of the farmers who need it most.
Eiman Jawwad, 17, from Lahore, Pakistan: Reusing tea and coffee as organic fertilizer
“Sometimes simplicity is key,” said the judging panel in selecting Eiman’s idea. Like many European countries, Pakistan is a big consumer of tea and coffeewhich means there are tons of used leaves and soils that are wasted.
Meanwhile, chemical fertilizers wreak havoc on the environment, upsetting the balance of floor and pumping algae into waterways.
Marrying two problems and finding a solution, she started a movement in Pakistan where high-potency tea leaves and coffee grounds are collected and redistributed to local nurseries – helping to lower their costs too.
With the community she created, Eiman was able to collect more than 5 tons of organic fertilizer over three years, which facilitated the growth of thousands of plants in local nurseries and parks – also helping to reduce producers’ costs.
The 17-year-old has also visited over 20 different secondary schools to educate and engage students.
Akhila Ram, 17, from Lexington, USA: Monitoring groundwater with machine learning
Akhila is also looking to tackle water shortage – by looking into the problem of groundwater depletion.
Timely and up-to-date groundwater management is crucial for sustaining global water resources, but current monitoring and data networks are unable to provide sufficient or easily accessible information.
The young innovator has developed a machine learning model that uses satellite data to predict detailed groundwater changes with high accuracy for the United States. A groundwater monitoring dashboard uses model predictions to provide everyone with an accessible way to learn about groundwater trends.
Thanks to these precise measures, local authorities are equipped with the necessary tools to preserve the resources of their region, by eliminating the excessive depletion of groundwater.
“Groundwater monitoring is normally very expensive, so Akhila’s solution could create completely new possibilities for groundwater planning and monitoring,” the jury said.
The winner of the Children’s Climate Prize will be announced in November 2022 and will receive nearly €10,000 to develop their project.