Mar 28, 2023
Thought Question: what social issues do you think are most important to your generation?
When she was in middle school, Anna Du enjoyed walking the beaches near her home, collecting colorful shards of sea glass. She would string them together to make jewelry. It was a favorite hobby. But then Anna found out that much of that “glass” was actually plastic.
“That really horrified me,” Anna said.
Anna wanted to do something about all that waste. She was 11 at the time. She looked into the plastics. Her research showed that the particles were microplastics.
"Microplastics are so harmful because they're a lot harder to clean up. Typically, they come from larger pieces of plastics, like plastic bags or containers that have broken down," Anna told ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA). "Some smaller animals might eat a little bit of plastics, and a large animal might eat a lot of those smaller animals. And so as you go up the food chain, humans eat those animals."
Once she’d learned about the threat, Anna came up with a way to fight it. She spent more than 500 hours building prototypes. Anna perfected a small, lightweight ROV, or remote-operated vehicle. It can dive beneath the waves to find microplastics. It uses infrared light to figure out the differences between plastic particles and other trash in the sea.
Her invention won multiple awards. Anna is now 17. She hopes that the legacy of her ROV is one of awareness. “I want to inspire my generation to use science and technology as weapons…against these big-world problems,” she told GMA.
Photo by Brian Yurasits courtesy of Unsplash.
Solutions to Multiplying Plastic
In this lesson, students use multiplication to understand the problem of single-use plastics and how they impact climate change.
The (Not So) Great Garbage Patches
In this lesson, students learn about plastic pollution and write a letter to a local official advocating for a solution to plastic pollution.
How Can We Encourage Our Community to Use More Renewables? (Renewable Energy #6)
In this lesson, students advocate for renewable energy in their schools and communities.