Jasper Lutyens, 12, believes children can change the world! Jasper is an environmental engineer and activist passionate about saving the environment, starting with the Los Angeles River. Jasper has created a device that monitors and protects the Los Angeles River from pollution, while inspiring others to help keep the river clean.
Jasper started working on his device, which is called the River Monitor Beacon, when he was just 9 years old. “I was in grade 3 and saw how polluted the river was. We were doing this LA river wildlife science project with FOLAR,” Jasper told In The Know. “It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaning up and preserving the river. And so I thought I had to do something about [the pollution].”
As information about the Los Angeles River pollution surfaced online, Jasper wanted to make a statement that no one could ignore. With the help of his father, he began designing a beacon that would stand prominently next to the Los Angeles River and display pollution data for all to see. “So the idea behind the monitor is that we want to display that data in public more easily,” says Jasper. “So the river monitor itself displays the amount of bacterial pollution in the water, especially E. coli, which makes up a large portion of the bacteria in the water.”
After designing a prototype of its river monitoring beacon, Jasper partnered with FOLAR. “FOLAR arranged a meeting with LA Sanitation, specifically with the assistant manager, and he really liked the idea and he gave us funds and engineers,” recalls Jasper. “We met with the engineers and they showed us what they were thinking and where they wanted to put it. Then they were installed in 2020.”
The river monitor beacon flashes red, yellow or green depending on the pollution level of the river on a given day. “So green [means] you can enter, but the rules still apply. You don’t swim in it, you don’t drink in it, you don’t fish in it, but you can kayak, you can canoe,” says Jasper. “Yellow means you have to be careful. It’s like, advised not to enter, but you can still enter. And the red is completely closed.
Jasper hopes the River Monitor Beacon will inspire others to donate their time and energy to cleaning up the Los Angeles River. “When they read the sign and see that the monitor is red, which is often the case, they’ll probably realize, ‘Dude, our river is polluted, a lot’, and hopefully they’ll try to intervene. at least a little to the cause of cleaning up our river,” says Jasper. “It just puts the idea in their mind and they can take it from there.”
Jasper also hopes his young age will inspire adults to take action. “By doing this project, I guess I can just show them that, ‘Hey, a 9-year-old did this, you can probably do this too. Like, get off the couch,'” Jasper says. can vote. Older people have all these rights that we children don’t really have, and they have the right to change things.
Of course, Jasper also believes that children have the power to make a difference! “The elderly are not everything. The younger ones can still help. They can organize, they can protest, they can persuade their parents to vote for things they support,” says Jasper. “I really think young people should be more involved in climate action because it’s our future to protect.”
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