He’s only 15-years old, but Varun Saikia is already making headlines. The Indian student recently won an Outstanding Achievement award from the Initiative for Research and Innovation in STEM (IRIS) National Fair 2021. 

The teen told the Times of India that winning the prestigious award was “joyous.”

He won the award for his invention “Flipper,” a floating device that cleans garbage from the surface of oceans, streams, and rivers. Given the planet’s increasingly polluted waterways, there’s no doubt that Saikia’s device is precisely the type of innovation the world desperately needs right now. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least 8 million tons of plastic wind up in the Earth’s oceans each year, and consist of about 80% of all marine debris from water surfaces to deep-sea sediments. 

Flipper is fully automated, remote-controlled, and environmentally friendly. Saikia was just 12-years-old when he invented the device.

“My aim is to come up with a technology that can clean up water bodies swift,” he told the Times of India

Saikia, who attends Navrachana School, Sama in the Indian state of Gujarat, was among 1,000 finalists for the award. He is the first teenager from his state to win the award, which is granted by the American Meteorological Society, Massachusetts, for excellence in atmospheric and related sciences. The AMS is the leading scientific and professional organization of the United States that promotes and disseminates data about oceanic, atmospheric, and hydrologic sciences.

The IRIS Fair is a collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The award is granted to young people who design outstanding innovations. 

The teen’s school applauded his achievement and shares his desire for a cleaner planet. His principal, Suprabha Menon, told Connect Gujarat: “We at Navrachana School, Sama are very proud of our young innovator Varun Saikia. A very bright student with a zeal for scientific research and innovation, Varun embodies the scientific temper that Navrachana seeks to develop in its students. It is very heartening to see his commitment to finding a solution for the single biggest challenge that the world faces today – pollution.”

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