Student Spotlight: Arjun Sharma, Environmentalist & Innovator
Upper School student, Arjun Sharma, doesn’t just dream of becoming an inventor and environmentalist in the future—he can already claim that distinction now. As a Grade 11 visionary and the creator of the CleanMyBeach app, he’s combined his concern for the health of our environment with an interest in computer science to develop an amazing tool that helps people come together to clean up beaches around the world.
Arjun’s CleanMyBeach app takes various cleanup groups throughout the world and combines them to create specific communities that can work together to clean up beaches in their specific areas. Not only does this streamline the cleanup process, it also encourages environmentally conscious people to work together to have maximum impact. Why do this important work alone when you can collaborate with other passionate conservationists?
The Inspiration Behind CleanMyBeach
Arjun’s own passion for the environment emerged from a childhood spent traveling across the globe. “One thing that surprised me in all this traveling was the sheer amount of visible trash," Arjun said, "particularly in third-world countries.” He was also surprised to see that it wasn’t just confined to urban areas. “It was a very eye-opening experience to see countless plastic bottles littering mountains and the sides of roads in suburban and rural areas as well.”
Throughout his travels, Arjun visited many beaches and spent plenty of time on his home state’s sandy shores. One thing that he consistently noticed was the sheer amount of trash and litter on beaches. He saw all different types of garbage, “ranging from cigarette butts and broken plastic pieces to aluminum cans and plastic bags.”
Driven by a desire to help, this young environmentalist devised the premise of his app and ran it by various nonprofit organizations. After receiving positive feedback, he started with the development. As both a platform and an application, the app can be used to organize beach-cleaning work now and can be leveraged in the future for other areas (e.g. neighborhoods, parks, cities) that are harmed by littering, trash, and environmental pollution.
Laurel Springs Sets Arjun up for Success
The creation and development of the CleanMyBeach app was challenging, but Arjun credits his experience at Laurel Springs with guiding him towards his success. The flexible schedule is one feature that gave him time to follow his passion. He said, “The ability to block-schedule courses allows me to focus more on one course at a time, which gives me more time to work on any external projects that I may have, like CleanMyBeach.”
He also says the project management skills he’s cultivated at Laurel Springs has assisted his environmental science work. It “proved to be very useful in building CleanMyBeach, as I needed to organize, plan, and prioritize my actions in working on the app.” As a student and inventor, he’s managed to make the most of his time, not only improving himself by pursuing his studies, but also improving the state of our world.
At the end of 2019, Congressman Ed Case, representative for Hawaii’s First Congressional District, awarded Arjun the first place prize in his Congressional App Challenge. Case said that the winners like Arjun “prove that they have the skill set, imagination, and resolve to compete against the best of our young people nationwide in science, technology, engineering, and math, along with the potential to lead the next generations of computer science and technology.”
What’s Next for Arjun and CleanMyBeach?
While continuing his education, Arjun intends to increase the app’s effectiveness at combating pollution on a larger scale. For now, he’s continuing to partner with nonprofit organizations and is also focused on bringing more young people to the cause. He hopes to start an ambassador program that mobilizes young people by offering volunteer hours in exchange for making a positive impact on the environment and spreading the word in their own communities. As a member of the generation that will have to live with the long-term effects of environmental pollution, Arjun is laser-focused on getting help from the people who will be the most affected.
Want to help keep beaches clean? Download the CleanMyBeach app and join the movement!
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