Today’s Student, Tomorrow’s Innovation Leader with Ecotek’s Evan Morton

November 18, 2013

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome to Green is Good, and we’re so excited to have on the show with us today Evan Morton. He’s a young student at Detroit Edison Public School Academy in Detroit. Evan Morton, welcome to Green is Good. EVAN MORTON: Thank you. Good to be on the show. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, Evan, you’re such a unique teenager, and I just want to share with our listeners here in the U.S. and around the world. You took the time to write me the nicest email to tell me what you’re doing and what your dreams are. Your a 16-year-old scientist who wants to become a green chemist and environmental scientist and you’ve done a lot of things already and I’m just so proud to have you on the show today because it’s young people like you that give me hope in the future of, not only the United States, but the future of the world because young people like you can change the world and you’re the next generation and we’re just proud to have you on the show today. EVAN MORTON: Thank you. It’s a privilege to be on the show. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, Evan, you’re a young guy and in your bio and in your email, you talked about you created a wind turbine. Talk a little bit about that creation. How’d that come about and how’d you get inspired to do that and what did that wind turbine do? EVAN MORTON: Oh, well, in the seventh grade, I joined a group called Ecotek. It’s a science research center for young inventors so through that, I created my wind turbine and it was already kind of set up. I just had to wire everything and make sure that when I actually made it work and ran it through the fan, I had to make sure the light was on and that would tell me that all of the energy was being stored inside the cell, which is the main power source, which you get that energy from, and so after I was done with the project, I was invited to go to Pigeon, Michigan, and through my time at Pigeon, Michigan, I was able to look at different types of wind turbines, go to their wind farm, and then I was also able to ask question to different types of scientists and that was a lot of exposure for me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is great, and you just mentioned Ecotek so I want to throw this out to our listeners out there, our young listeners in the United States and around the world. This is a great website. I’m on it now and it’s for young scientists and again, if young people like you can be involved, Evan, we want other young people to get inspired by listening to you and following your great work. It’s www.ecotek-us.com. That’s what Evan has been involved with and we want other young listeners to also engage and get inspired and see some great opportunities out there. How did you become interested in something as fancy and something as new as — when I say new, something that we’re just talking about now, it’s not new — as green chemistry and environmental science? EVAN MORTON: Well, in the sixth grade, my school had a competition and you had to create a hydrogen fuel cell car and so students were selected and I happened to be one of those students, so I created a hydrogen fuel-cell car and then I raced them against the other students and mine won so the leader of Ecotek, Mr. Young, he invited me to join Ecotek in the seventh grade and through that time, all my projects have been centered around green chemistry, environmental science, and environmental engineering and alternative energy. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is awesome. So, again, Ecotek comes up again and what are you doing this summer? EVAN MORTON: Oh, well, this summer, I currently have a internship with a company called NTH Consultants and NTH Consultants is a company that provides infrastructure and environmental services around Detroit and the metropolitan area and they also have offices in Ohio and Indiana and through that time, I’ve been on many field expeditions using hand augers, augers, obtaining soil cores, and I’ve also been able to go to their lab where I tested for densities of soil and performed concrete testing. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, you’re 16 years old and you’ve been working for NTH Consultants? EVAN MORTON: Yeah. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How’s it been? I mean like, has it been like one of the funnest summers of your life? EVAN MORTON: Yeah. This is a pretty good summer because I was able to work with other types of scientists and I was able to get outside exposure doing what people do in the real world and it’s really been an eye opener because even though it’s hard work, I’ve gained a lot of exposure and I’ve also been able to grow and mature as a person. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. You know, Evan, I’m impressed, seriously. This is where young people should be spending their time. I don’t want to make an advertisement here or make a big social statement but when I hear or when I get that kind of email from a young person like you and I hear all the great things you’re doing at 16 years old, that’s hopeful. Compared to all the other nonsense out there, it’s so great that you’re so focused and you’re so involved. Of course, I did background work on you before we got you on the show and you said some of the things you’ve been doing locally in Michigan this summer and the real world experience. Talk a little bit some of the places outside of Michigan that you’ve had the honor to go to. I understand you actually even spoke at the United Nations. EVAN MORTON: Oh, yes. I’ve been to Sarasota, Florida, to study marine biology and as you said, I’ve been to the United Nations located in New York where, when I spent my time in New York, I spoke to the ambassadors of different nations such as Germany and Spain and I introduced myself in Germany to the German ambassador. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How was that? How was that feeling? EVAN MORTON: It was pretty nervous. I was really nervous because I was only in the eighth grade at the time and it was just speaking to an ambassador of a different country was just such a big honor and sometimes you get flustered when you speak. JOHN SHEGERIAN: But, I assume they were all super nice to you and I’m sure that there’s some great lessons that you took out of that whole experience. EVAN MORTON: Oh, yes. They were really nice and I was able to speak in German fluently and I was able to show the German ambassador and the Spain ambassador that basically, I could be more outside focused and I could think outside the box. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. I love it. I love it. Besides green chemistry, besides environmental science, what are some of the extracurricular things you do? What else are you into? EVAN MORTON: Currently, I’m the leader of my school’s Green Team. We’re trying to build a anaerobic digester in the school so that’s one of my big projects I’m working on this year and I’m also a member of my school’s debate club. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What have you been thinking about going to college? EVAN MORTON: Well for my college, I do want to go to MSU and then there’s also another choice, which is Wayne State University. MSU is Michigan State University. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Great. Do they have a great sustainability or green program over there? EVAN MORTON: Yes. For Michigan State, they do ,and for Wayne State, they do, so that’s why I have them as one of my choices. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is great. We’ve got about two minutes left here. What’s the dream beyond college? How do you really want to make a difference in alternative energy and green chemistry after you get out of college and after you’re professional and you go into the real world then? What’s on your mind today? EVAN MORTON: I plan to make a difference in alternative energy and green chemistry when I graduate college. I plan to create different alternatives to oil and plastic use. These alternatives should include bioplastic and biofuels. I also want to inform the world globally about how oil can impact global warming and how plastics and landfill can affect the populations of different types of animals such as birds because they’ve mistaken it for food and I also want to do environmental surveying and test different soil and river sites worldwide. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow, that is just awesome. Are there other interns at NTH this summer or are you the only one? EVAN MORTON: There was a college intern at the beginning, but he had to go back to his home country, so I’m the only one for right now. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, what year are you going into this year in high school? EVAN MORTON: I’m going into the junior year this year. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Junior year, wow, so you’ve got still two more years in high school. That’s just amazing. That is just wonderful, and in the last 20 seconds or so, green chemistry. Tell the listeners what green chemistry is because this is important that they understand this. EVAN MORTON: Green chemistry is basically when you have oil and plastic, those things are bad for the environment but green chemistry is finding different alternatives to those, whether it be biofuel, bioplastic, bioplastic, bioglass, anything that can make the environmental sustainable and can make it flourish, that’s basically what green chemistry is. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Evan, you’re just truly an amazing guy. You’re everything that makes this country great and gives us all hope and for our listeners out there, go to Ecotek-us.com. Evan Morton, you’re an inspirational youth leader and truly living proof that green is good.