12-year-old invents an underwater vehicle that detects and collects microplastics from the ocean without harming marine life
While visiting Boston Harbor, a 12-year-old Anna Du noticed thousands of tiny pieces of plastic in the sand. She tried picking them up, but there were so many, “it just seemed impossible,” she tells Boston25 News.
A lover of marine animals, and concerned about microplastics making their way through the food chain to humans, she got to work on an invention that would clean up ocean plastic more efficiently — a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) that uses infrared light to detect and remove microplastics from the ocean:
The machine is harmless to marine animals and plants.
She chose infrared light because it can distinguish microplastics from other, nonhazardous materials underwater, without having to send samples to a lab.
Du’s invention has made her one of 10 finalists for the national Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
As a finalist, she’ll get to work with a scientist from 3M — a multinational manufacturing corporation — to fine-tune her device into a viable tool to help scientists detect and collect microplastics on a larger scale.