Plastics have become an ubiquitous feature of modern life, but their convenience comes with a price. Because of the length of time it takes for plastic to decompose, it now clogs up our landfills and oceans. Meanwhile, its production and use does not look to decrease any time soon.
In 2011, Canadian high school students Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao visited the Vancouver South Waster Transfer Station and observed major problems in sorting and eliminating discarded plastics. They were inspired to search for bacteria capable of breaking down plastics, which would in turn speed up the decomposition process and reduce the level of toxic phthalates in our environment. They presented their findings at a TEDx conference in Long Beach, California this February.
“Design and Synthesis of Hydrogenated TiO2-Polyaniline Nanorods for Flexible High-Performance Supercapacitors” – say what? Well, that was the name of the winning experiment of 18-year-old Eesha Khare who took the one of two runner-up prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for inventing a device that charges cellphone batteries in less than 30 seconds. It’s taken the science and tech world by storm for an invention that could eventually wind up in some of our hands in the future. However, the teen is not interested in commercializing it anytime soon – she’s headed straight to Harvard (where she will use her $50k towards her education).
The Saratoga teen also recently appeared on Conan to talk about her invention, lovecalls from Google – and her next invention. She’s quite likeable. Click on to see the interviews!