To celebrate Earth Day, ecoSPEARS, an environmental clean-tech company based in Orlando, Florida hosted their first STEM Shark Tank event of 2019. This year’s theme, geared towards sustainability, challenged twenty-five STEM school students in the Orlando area to come up with innovative ideas to tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. The twelve groups of participants from the Seminole Science Charter School were required to choose at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that their project would fall into. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals in total – all focusing on tackling urgent social, economic, and environmental issues across the globe. From engineering AI-operated garden weeding-robots which would reduce our dependence on herbicides, to creating a more exciting and efficient recycling program, the students all came together and made strides towards creating a greener future for generations to come.
Each participant was competing for a $250 first place cash prize as well as a $50 cash prize for both second and third place. The students also had the option to receive mentorship from the ecoSPEARS team to help guide them through the process of turning their business concept into a reality. This year’s shark tank was organized by Morgan Smuczynski, a Business Analyst and Chemist Assistant at ecoSPEARS. “I think educating younger generations on the importance of taking action rather than just talking about it is something that is really important when it comes to making a change in today’s world. The whole group really understood that social, financial, and environmental components all carry equal weight when it comes to starting a business and that the successful integration of each is critical for creating a sustainable business model.”
The first place winner of this year’s event went to Siddharth Kini, who designed a self-weeding robot to reduce society’s dependence on harmful herbicides. In his pitch, he mentioned that many herbicides we use today are harmful not only to the environment and wildlife but humans as well. He hopes his invention – designed to use Artificial Intelligence to target and pull unwanted weeds, will reduce our societies dependents on these harmful chemicals.
In second place came Shriya C. and Anwitha S. with their business pitch centered around their concept “PURE Pollutant Filter,” an easily-attachable filter for vehicle exhaust ports to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The team formed the idea of the pollutant filter to tackle this issue of carbon and exhaust emissions, especially in heavily-populated areas and countries.
Lastly, in third place was a team of four students, Lokaghna B., Nikhil D., Snehil B., and Vishnu C., with their Water Generating Device, or WGD. This device would pump unclean water through a series of filters consisting of ultra sand – sand grains which are super-heated to 400 degrees Celsius over an eight-hour period – to remove pathogens and bacteria from otherwise inaccessible sources of fresh water.
“Even though we knew there could only be three winning teams, each of the groups that presented did a phenomenal job working their ideas into the ranking criteria. It was a huge challenge selecting the winners! All of these ideas are ones that could potentially change the world for the better, all using sustainable and innovative concepts. At the end of the day, all of the students who chose to participate already placed themselves among those ‘doers’ who are likely to be the leaders motivating others to strive towards excellence in future generations. We can’t wait to see what the next event brings,” says Morgan Smuczynski.
ecoSPEARS will be hosting its second shark tank event later this year and will be welcoming applicants from schools around the Orlando area. For more information on this event, reach out to email@example.com