Meriden student, Mikayla Rodger, has been awarded the 2023 Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her scientific research into cyanobacteria, a microscopic phytoplankton responsible for an irreversible decline in water quality around the world. Her success marks the second year a Meriden student has topped the prestigious competition that challenges students to find solutions to global water problems.
Mikayla’s work looked into an eco-friendly and affordable system that could help prevent a cyanobacteria bloom. Her solar-powered machine, which she called SolarCyanoSlayer, is capable of reducing cyanobacteria blooms by circulating, oxygenating and filtering a body of water. The system, which is designed to be used by farming dams, is made from recycled materials and is suitable for both short- and long-term implementation.
Supported by her Science teachers, Mikayla worked for many hours on her project after learning about the damaging effects of cyanobacteria in Australian waterways.
“The impact of cyanobacteria is so immense that it can even be observed from space. Cyanobacteria blooms are growing in severity, not just within Australia but around the world. The combination of floods and nutrient runoff after a drought fuels blooms which produce toxins harmful to humans, livestock and wildlife,” said Mikayla.
Mikayla’s invention has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of cyanobacteria blooms. She was invited to present her project at the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize after achieving second place in the Innovations and Engineering Design Years 9 – 10 category at the STA NSW Young Scientist Awards. Mikayla will now travel to Stockholm to compete against students from over thirty countries in the international final.
“I am looking forward to presenting my invention on a global stage and meeting other students from around the world who share my passion for science and innovation,” said Mikayla.
The Year 10 student said she has always been fascinated by science, and completing her project has further reinforced her passion for the subject.
“For me, science is a vessel for discovery. I get to learn about how things work and apply it to the world around me. Science allows me to question, explore and uncover. It provides results that can help to develop solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Mikayla.
“I believe it is important for young women to become more involved in STEM, pursue their interests and strive to make real change in the world around them.”
The Meriden community is extremely proud of Mikayla and wishes her all the best as she embarks on this exciting next step of her scientific journey.