Humans of SJWP.Nov 07, 2018

Krtin Kanna Nithiyanandam from United Kingdom

Full interview:

Outside of SJWP and outside of science, who is ordinary Krtin? What’s a normal day and what do you like to do?

Krtin: Honestly, without science my life is quite boring, I definitely squash, which is fun and I play competitively, but other than that my life is pretty bland without science.

So if we then go into science, how did you learn about the Stockholm Junior Water Prize?

Krtin: In the UK we have one big competition, the big bang fair, which is the national science competition. I think this year was my fourth year there and I want to do something else.  I searched up competitions in the UK and the UK Stockholm Junior Water Prize came up and the trip to Stockholm was one of the things advertised. I looked at the competition and said “this is really cool” and at the time I was making my plastic so it just happened to be a convenient match.

Maybe you can tell us a little bit about the plastic.

Krtin:  The plastic is a bioplastic made out of cellulose, protein powdered milk, Orange peels, left over sulfur and visceral. Cooking up this plastic you create a material that can remove pathogenic bacteria in the water, the coliform bacteria, and also remove heavy metals. What was also neat about the plastic was in the presence of heavy metals it changed color. So not only was it a water purifier it was a water diagnostic as well.

Has there been a specific moment in Stockholm where you felt extra challenged?

Krtin: Judging was something I was nervous about and I honestly wasn’t really looking forward to it beforehand because you have these water experts and you are worried they’ll grill you and then call you out on something and you’re not quite sure how to answer questions. But then when you present the project you realize that you know more about the project than anyone else, so there isn’t anything they can call you out on because you are the expert.

Would you say that there has been any particular person that helped you over those bumps? How did they help and how did you find that person?

Krtin: My teacher taught me a lot last year. This project is two parts. One is an evolution of last years project, the other part is something completely new. I think with the of evolution part, my teachers couldn’t help me as much as they could given the resources they had at school. So with machine learning and that sort of thing, it wasn’t something teachers or anyone I really knew had experience with. But at other science fairs, I made friends and kept in touch with them who do work in machine learning and who know about these kinds of things. Just dropping them a Facebook message and then go – hey, I’m having this problem. What do you think about it – and listen to their advice and getting a bunch of these people to give their feedback it’s really useful.

So in terms of the competition has there been any best moments during the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Competition?

Krtin: The Royal Banquet was my favorite part, or the biggest. Yeah. Nice to dress in your suit and tuxedo and going out to the waterfront for taking pictures. There was a good weather as well.  By far the most memorable, I think it was that day that made me realize I want to do this again.

Given that you’ve already had this experience once, you’re having it this year again. How do you think that this competition has like impacted or changed you?

Krtin: So again, it’s a water focused competition. I’m coming from the side of purified water, but you have a whole host of other water related issues. So, using water to create energy and then using a membrane battery to store it, is the project from the Netherlands this year, or, protecting the biodiversity of the oceans. Those are issues that should be on our minds on a fairly regular basis, perhaps not a daily basis, but it should be on our minds anyway. But I mean before coming here, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I mean clean water is the thing that everyone thinks about when you talk about water problems, but there are these other equally important issues that don’t get as much attention because they don’t get as much exposure, or the views on TV or social media.

You have raised your awareness in that sense. What about on a more personal level? What do you think this competition has brought you?

Krtin: Big definitely, friends! Like, Rachel and Ryan from the USA last year, McKinley from Australia and the three Cypriots. We are still in touch now and our group chat is still active. And I mean, I know if I ever go to their parts of the world and I met up with them, they would be more than happy to hang out together. I think that is just great.

Imagine you could telepathically communicate with every single 35-year-old or younger in the entire world, and have their attention for just a little moment. What would you want to say to all these people 35 and under?

Krtin: Everyone should do something that matters. I mean, it might matter to you and not someone else, but it still matters and if it matters to you it is more likely than not it’ll matter to at least one other person. Even if it’s a minority of the world someone else will care about the problem. So, do stuff that matters, but also, don’t forget to have fun because, my family is very academically driven. Stereotypically, academically driven means it was always study hard you can have fun later. But I think that’s the wrong attitude because when you are young that is when you have the most fun, you’re in full possession of your capabilities. You can do stuff now that you probably couldn’t get away with as a 50-year-old.

More information about Krtin and his project can be found here

Interviewer: Edward

Interviewee: Krtin

Country: UK

Photographer: Lila Roumeliotou