Born: 2001 From: Ireland
Known for: removing microplastics from water
Fionn’s light-bulb moment came when he found a rock covered in oil near his small coastal town. He noticed bits of microplastic stuck to the oil. Too tiny to be removed by filters at waste-processing plants, these microplastics end up in waterways, and eventually into wildlife and humans.
The rock reminded Fionn of something he’d learned in chemistry class: “like attracts like”. What if microplastics had something to stick to? He came up with a solution: a liquid that attracts plastic particles and can be removed with a magnet, leaving clear water behind.
Fionn entered the project in the 2019 Google Science Fair and came away with the US$50,000 (CDN$68,000) top prize! He hopes his solution can be used at wastewater treatment facilities to prevent microplastics from reaching the ocean.
Featuring young activists from around the world, all of them under 21 years of age, Generation Hope provides a great many examples of how individuals are making a difference in their communities and countries. Following a brief introduction, the book is divided into 20 chapters with topics such as climate change, animal rights, recycling, hunger, homelessness, bullying, mental health, plant-based diets, racism, LGBTQ, and “eco-preneurship”. Each chapter provides information about a specific topic, followed by a “Kids Take Action” section which offers several activists’ profiles and inspiring quotes. There are related lists of ideas and tips for readers to start today, some examples of which are “50 Random Acts of Kindness”, “18 Ways to Save Water” and “Eight Ways to Help Homeless People”. It is fitting that in the first chapter, all about climate change, the first activist mentioned is Greta Thunberg, the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Though there is a lot of useful information in this book, the inclusion of so many topics can be somewhat overwhelming. (On the plus side, readers can select only the chapters that are of interest to them.) However, the book’s biggest flaws are the poor paper quality and often jarring background colours (hot pink, deep turquoise, bright orange, red, yellow and lime green) which make the text hard to read. What is worse is when two such background colours appear on the same page with the text running across both colours, thus interrupting the flow of the text.
Illustrations in Generation Hope consist of cartoonlike drawings and feature kids of different races. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are included. There is also a fairly lengthy list of related books, magazines, web sites and videos for further research, although the list of magazines is too general. It merely provides titles of periodicals but does not guide readers to specific issues.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.