Teen Builds Underwater Robot To Detect Plastic Pollution In Our Oceans

Anna Du might only be 16 years old, but she’s already doing her part to help change the world.

The high school student from Massachusetts is all about saving the environment and has been working hard building robots and using artificial intelligence to track and trap microplastics before they go from oceans into our food supply each year.

When she was just 12, she built an underwater robot to detect plastic pollution.

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Microplastics are the broken down byproduct of plastic items that people toss out every day. Sadly, they end up in oceans, affecting not only our food supply, but harming marine life as well.

8 million tonnes of plastics are dumped into the ocean each year and they can take hundreds of years to break down. 100,000 marine animals die every year due to these plastics.

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Microplastics pose a much greater risk than large plastics because they are so small and harder to clean up, and a lot of people aren’t aware of how damaging they can be.

Small fish eat the microplastics and then larger fish eat the smaller fish. By the time those fish reach our plates, there are a lot of toxins and microplastics inside.

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Du has co-founded the Deep Plastic Initiative, which is an organization dedicated to promoting education and awareness about the global dangers of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Aside from identifying and cleaning up these microplastics directly, Du says there are many other things that can be done to clean up plastic pollution on land as well such as plastic recycling in homes, schools, businesses, and more.

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Although this issue seems like a big one, Du believes everyone can contribute something in their own way to help solve this problem. Whether it’s spreading awareness on the issue, cleaning up a beach or park, creating science projects, or contributing to fundamental science research, every little thing helps.

Du’s hard work has led her to becoming the top-rated female middle schooler in science fairs in the country, and she has placed first in the Massachusetts science and engineering fair. She has also been a national Broadcom MASTERS finalist twice, and was named a Top Ten Young Scientist in the US by Discovery Education and 3M.

Learn more about Du’s work in the video below:

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