Michelle Sun, the founder of First Code Academy, interviews Fionn, a 19-year-old anti-plastic pollution innovator, scientist, and student from Ireland, who invented a way of fighting the environmental plastic waste crisis. His project “An investigation into the removal of microplastics from water using ferrofluids” won the Grand Prize in the 2019 Google Science Fair competing against other 23 finalists from 13 countries. His innovation uses a magnet-based method to remove the particles from water with surprisingly high extraction rates (around 85%) as well as being fast, non-harmful, and clean.
Fionn is very passionate about nature and was concerned about the increasing amount of microplastics that can be found on many beaches. He is extremely keen on finding solutions and building machines/tools that will help to clean our oceans from microplastics. Apart from winning the grand prize at the google science fair, he is a sought-after global keynote speaker in anti-plastic and environmental and social protection communities. He also served as a judge at GreenTech Festival Berlin 2020 and Young Plastic Pollution Challenge 2020. And furthermore, he was awarded a 2019 Straubel Leadership Award. Fionn founded Fionn & Co. LLC that aims to use his method to clean ocean waters from microplastics.
Michelle and Fionn speak about what inspired Fionn to start the project, how he started on building machines using LEGOs, microcontrollers, and sensors to test the microplastics in water, obstacles he faced from being in a remote area in Ireland, his experiences at the Google Science Fair and at his life after winning the award, as well as Fionn’s passion about nature and findings solutions for plastic pollution.We hope you enjoy this episode - we were very inspired by Fionn, and he’s definitely off to be a great scientist and innovator in the future. We can't wait to see what new projects and machines he works on.