Google’s empowering docuseries titled “Search On” was created to tell the stories of people on a quest for better answers while highlighting the intersection of technology and humanity. In wake of the Flint, Michigan water crisis these stouthearted six women of color decided to use their voices to speak up for the voiceless. They courageously utilized technology to combat environmental injustice while advocating for clean water.
The Flint water crisis is one of the most massive public health crisis’ to date that lead to a federal state of emergency in Flint, Michigan. Nearly three years after making national headlines, residents still do not believe the water is safe to consume.
Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner, and Bria Snell
We first were introduced to these high-school seniors when they entered the NASA Goddard Challenge back in May. The Washington trio decided to partake in community service at the In3DC ( A community inclusion space for under-resourced members) gaining much knowledge in STEM. After witnessing school fountains being covered up with plastic bags, they took interest in the process of water purification. For their NASA Goddard project, Mikayla, India, and Bria created a prototype filter that would use a small fan to push toxins through said filter. The key to the prototype was for people using the instrument to be able to visualize the water being filtered. The girls ended up winning second place in the competition and gaining much attention from the likes of CNN and The Washington Post. The girls are now working with CELIE and Socialgrlz.
Little Miss Flint as some would call her (after winning the pageant in 2015), used her platform to gain attention from the likes of our 44th President Barack Obama. Mari became determined to use her voice to rally against corrosive water within the Flint pipelines that made her, and her younger siblings develop uncomfortable rashes. To help families who may have been unable to afford quality water filters, Mari has since went on to donate school supplies to children in her community.
When the Flint, Michigan water crisis arose, Avant was researching the relationship between clean water and the well being of individuals at Harvard University. During the time, her father had became very ill and was diagnosed with diabetes. Avant couldn’t help but be curious as to why her once healthy father had succumbed such a surprising illness. Avant then started to explore water research and the relationship between arsenic and diabetes. To bridge the gap between the various communication channels of unsafe contaminant water to the public, Avant created Aquagenuity. A blockchain-based platform pulling hyperlocal water data from sources like the EPA, NASA, public utilities, municipalities, and research institutions.
Finding a way to get the lead out of the water just wasn’t enough of a solution for Gitanjali, she realized that being able to test your own water could be empowering. One day while browsing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s material science page, Gitanjali stumbled across a new carbon nanotube sensor technology that can detect hazardous gases in the air. She then decided to design a compact, fast, and cheap device to detect lead in the drinking water with a version of the carbon nanotubes “buckypaper”. Her empowering awareness to create a lead- detection device is definitely inspiring a generation to come.
Includes reporting by Google
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