Ashton Cofer- A young inventor's plan to recycle Styrofoam

پکیج: TED Education / سرفصل: سخنرانی های دانش آموزان / درس 2

TED Education

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Ashton Cofer- A young inventor's plan to recycle Styrofoam

توضیح مختصر

From packing peanuts to disposable coffee cups, each year the US alone produces some two billion pounds of Styrofoam -- none of which can be recycled. Frustrated by this waste of resources and landfill space, Ashton Cofer and his science fair teammates developed a heating treatment to break down used Styrofoam into something useful. Check out their original design, which won both the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award and the Scientific American Innovator Award from Google Science Fair, in this original talk from TED-Ed Weekend in New York City. To find out more about TED-Ed Weekend, go here- bit.ly/2mCCQDn. To start a TED-Ed Club at your school, visit ed.ted.com/clubs.

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it was just an ordinary Saturday my dad was outside mowing the lawn my mom was upstairs folding laundry my sister was in a room doing homework and I was in the basement playing video games and as I came upstairs to get something to drink I looked out the window and real I said there was something that was supposed to be doing and this is what I saw no this wasn’t my family’s dinner on fire this was my science project flames were pouring out smoke was in the air and that look like a wooden deck was about to catch fire I immediately started yelling my mom was freaking out my dad ran around to put out the fire and of course my sister started recording a snapchat video this was just the beginning of my team science project my team is composed to me and through other students who are here in the audience today we competed in FIRST LEGO League which is an international Lego robotics competition for kids in in addition to robotics game we also worked on a separate science project and this was the project that we were working on so the idea for this project all started when a few months earlier a couple of my teammates took a trip to Central America and saw beaches littered with styrofoam or expanded polystyrene foam and when they came back and told us about it we really started thinking about the ways in which we see styrofoam every day get a new flat-screen TV you end up with a block of styrofoam bigger than the TV itself drink a cup of coffee with those styrofoam coffee cups are sure gonna add up and worry all these items go after their one-time use since there are any good existing solutions for you styrofoam almost all of them end up riding the landfill or the oceans and beaches taking over 500 years to degrade and in fact every year the US alone through this is over 2 billion pounds of styrofoam filling up a staggering 25% of landfills so why do we have these ghosts accumulations of styrofoam waste why can’t we just recite like many plastics well simply put recycled polystyrene is too expensive and potentially contaminated so there is very little market demand for styrofoam that has to be recycled and as a result styrofoam is considered a non-renewable material because it is neither feasible nor viable to recycle polystyrene and in fact many cities across the u.s. have even passed ordinances that simply ban the production of many products containing polystyrene which includes disposable utensils packing peanuts takeout containers and even plastic Beach toys all products were very useful in today’s society and now France has become the first country to completely ban all plastic utensils cups and plates but what if we could keep using styrofoam and keep benefiting from its cheap lightweight insulating an excellent patent ability while not having to suffer from the repercussions of having to dispose of it what if we could turn it into something else that’s actually useful what if we can make the impossible possible my team Apophis sized that we could use the carbon that is already in styrofoam to create activated carbon which is used in almost every water filter today an activated carbon works by using very small micro pores to filter out contaminants from water or even air so we started out by doing a variety of heating tests and unfortunately we had many failures literally nothing worked besides my dad’s cool kitchen on fire most of our samples vaporized into nothing or exploded inside expensive furnaces leaving a horribly sticky mess in fact we were so saddened by our failures that we almost gave up so why did we keep trying when all the adults said it was impossible well maybe it’s because for kids we don’t know any better but the truth is we kept trying B’s we thought it was still possible we knew that if we were successful we will be hoping the environment and making the world a better place so we kept trying and failing and trying and failing we were so ready to give up but then it happened with the right temperatures times and chemicals we find we got that successful test result showing us that we had created activity carbon from styrofoam waste and at that moment the thing that had been impossible all of a sudden wasn’t it showed us - although we had many failures at the beginning we were able to persevere through them to get the test results that we wanted and moreover not only were we able to create activated carbon for purifying water but we were also able to reduce styrofoam waste solving to global problems with just one solution so from then on we were inspired to take our project further performing more tests to make it more effective and testing it in real-world situations we then proceeded to receive funding from the nstac East cyber mission stem and action program sponsored by the US Army as well as first global Innovation Awards sponsored by XPrize and we were also honored with society with the Scientific American innovator award from Google science fair and using these funds we plan to file a full patent on our process and to continue to work on our project so yes all that we started with filling with catching my dad’s girl on fire and filling so many times that we almost quit it was well worth it when we look back in it now we took a problem that many people said was impossible and we made it possible and we persevered when it looked like nothing that we did would work we learned you can’t have success without a little or a lot of failure so in the future don’t be afraid if your girl goes up in flames because you never know when your idea might just catch fire thank you [Applause]

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