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This 12-Year Old Created a Robot That Detects Plastic in Our Oceans

Plastic waste has become such a significant issue, even a junior high student knows it’s an overwhelming task.

Anna Du, a sixth-grade student from Massachusetts, is in the beginning stages of a robot that can help clean up plastic littler. It follows some of the other amazing entrepreneurial efforts to eliminate plastic waste, like Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup project.

Du’s inspiration to create a cleanup solution of her own came when she wasn’t able to pick up all the pollution at the Boston Harbor. She wanted an easier process to retrieve the trash, creating a robot that uses underwater infrared light to track down microplastics. As development continues, she hopes the machine will have the ability to pick this trash up.


There have been collaborative efforts like Litterati to help collect all kinds of pollution in our environment and provides unique data, such as how much trash can be found in an area and it can link what companies are responsible. Du’s project, at least in the initial stages, looks to give us further details on just how bad our oceans are polluted when it identifies plastic waste.

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