Cork teen wins Grand Prize at prestigious Google Science Fair

18-year-old Fionn Ferreira, from Ballydehob, was one of 24 global finalists and he claimed the $50,000 (€44,865) bursary prize.

Cork teen wins Grand Prize at prestigious Google Science Fair

A Cork teen has been named the Grand Prize winner at the 2019 Google Science Fair.

18-year-old Fionn Ferreira, from Ballydehob, claimed the $50,000 (€44,865) bursary prize and was one of 24 global finalists.

Fionn's project was titled “An investigation into the removal of microplastics from water using ferrofluids” and was named the winner at Google international headquarters in Mountain View, California.

According to the Google Science Fair, the project "investigates a new method for the extraction of microplastics from water using ferrofluid, a nontoxic magnetic liquid that consists of oil and magnetite (iron oxide powder)."

Fionn sat his Leaving Cert last month at Schull Community College and is due to attend university in the Netherlands.

He has previously entered the BT Young Scientist and also works as a curator at the Schull Planetarium.

He has won 12 science fair awards, speaks three languages fluently and plays the trumpet at orchestra level.

The Google Science Fair is an annual online science competition and is open to students between the ages of 13 and 18 from around the world.

It has been running since 2011.

Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, stated:

"We challenged students to channel their curiosity and ingenuity invent, code, or build a solution to a problem they’re passionate about.

"Thousands of students participated, and this weekend we welcomed our 24 finalists—from 14 countries around the world—to Google to reveal the winners.

"These change-makers tackled issues across sustainability, healthcare, safety and accessibility.

"We saw impressive entries that used a variety of STEM disciplines - from using AI to help detect disease in plants to finding new ways to diagnosing heart disease.

"Each entry was an impressive, original contribution that has real-world implications for some of the world’s toughest problems."

Speaking to before travelling to America for the event, Fionn said: "It’s an incredible honour to reach the global final of the Google Science Fair.

My project came about as I was constantly hearing about plastic pollution on the news, and as I live by the sea in West Cork I was also seeing the real effects on our beaches every day.

"I discovered to my dismay that at present no screening or filtering for microplastics takes place in any European wastewater treatment centres, so I started looking around for a solution.

"Seeing that there was none I decided to investigate further, eventually finding a way to use ferrofluid, a magnetic liquid which sticks to the plastic allowing it to be removed using magnets."

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