Snigtha - Clean water is a priority, let’s start working toward that

Hey, fellow scientists! I’m really excited to continue working on the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The past few weeks have been really exciting for me. This process has been really interesting, especially since science is one of my main passions.

I’ve always loved to learn about science since a young age. My best teacher throughout all of my school years was my kindergarten teacher, as she was the first one who pushed me to expand my knowledge outside of school. She encouraged me to be the leader for the class project, presenting it at the local science fair. These same qualities have carried over into my current life. I still frequently conduct research and share it with others. She inspired me to learn more about science, and is the main reason that I’m always conducting more scientific research at home. I actively participate in various science fairs and competitions (one of which is the one from kindergarten!), trying to share my own ideas with everyone else. I’ve specifically had a long-standing interest in a certain environmental issue.

If you were to get a water sample from your tap water or bottled water, it probably looks clean at first. But it's most likely actually contaminated! When you think of water contamination, you probably first think of dirt, minerals, and maybe even metals in the water. But one of the main contaminants of water is microplastics, which is often neglected. These small microplastics have negative impacts on us, other organisms, and the environment, but there still is yet to be an effective well-rounded solution found and implemented.

For the last few years, I have been researching and investigating the microplastic problem. I have always been interested in finding an effective solution as I think it is really important to combat this issue that our world faces. I wanted to share my research and ideas since it can truly be beneficial for the world, and entering the 3M Young Scientist Challenge was the best way for me to do so. This challenge has given me the opportunity to develop my scientific research into a more innovative and feasible product or process. With the help of my matched mentor, this innovation gets the chance to be developed in the real world. This specific mentorship program is one of the best opportunities for not only me, but nearly every other young scientist as well.

To participate in the challenge, I had to create a video, and it was honestly a great experience for me, despite how much patience it may have taken. It was difficult to create my entry video since there were a lot of different points to discuss in a short amount of time. But overall, making my video taught me a lot of creating skills that will be helpful for the near and far future. Making a video definitely isn’t easy and it takes a lot of patience, but when you get to see the final video in the end, it’s very rewarding. All of your work is compiled into a short video, concisely and effectively explaining whatever message you're trying to get through. 

After I submitted my entry video for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, I was honestly pretty anxious. I was confident in my project, but I was aware that there were many other great projects competing. Being selected as a finalist is a great opportunity for me to expand my skills and share my research, so I was really happy when I heard that I was selected as one. When I got the phone call notifying me of this, I was speechless. I had no idea how to express my excitement other than smiling so widely that my cheeks hurt. 

My friends and family were also all really excited for me. My friends learned more about the 3M Young Scientist Challenge after I shared the news with them since they found this opportunity that I got really interesting. My family was really proud of me since they knew that this was a great opportunity. They have supported me and helped me prepare to start further working on my project in the finals of the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. I was fortunate enough to be able to share this news with my school teachers in-person, as it was announced during the last week before summer break. They were excited for me, and immediately offered their help. 

Over the past week, I have had my first meeting with my mentor and we were able to brainstorm about problems our world faces. Recently, I conducted research out on the ocean where I was able to investigate properties of living crustaceans, water qualities, and environmental conditions. I was able to first handedly observe the impact of people’s plastic pollution on living animals. In this ocean research, we were able to see a negative relationship between human activity (usually polluted areas) and lesser crab populations. This same pollution is one of the main causes for microplastics to get into the environment, which can in turn be contributing to the decrease in crabs in those areas. My mentor and I discussed how the microplastic problem is hardly recognized and acknowledged, and so it is important to take big steps towards combating it. I hope that in the following weeks, my project is able to start taking those big steps.

Thank you for reading, fellow scientists! I’m excited to keep you all updated on my next steps in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge!

Snigtha Mohanraj