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A middle school girl takes on microplastics! Anna Du went from worrying about the environment to designing top award-winning solutions.
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73 backers pledged $7,577 to help bring this project to life.

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 A middle school girl takes on microplastics! Now a top national science fair winner, Anna Du shares her autobiographical account of how she went from worrying about the environment to designing award-winning solutions.

Additional information about the book and Anna's background, as well as links to current draft excerpts can be found on: www.annadu.org

Anna’s story

I love to wander on the beach and gather sea glass for jewelry projects. But one day I picked up a piece of plastic instead—and soon I was seeing plastics everywhere. I learned that plastics are clogging our oceans…

8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year! 

Some of this plastic ends up in huge floating garbage patches, where people are figuring out ways to gather them up and get rid of them. But some breaks down into microplastics, which link to toxins and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Down there they enter the food chain. We don’t even know how to find these microplastics, much less how to clean them up.

This is the story of how I decided to tackle this problem, guided by my faithful German shepherd Andy. I called on mentors, used all my “making” skills, got discouraged at times, but finally came up with an invention that just might help. With lots of failures along the way, I built an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle). I equipped it with an array of sensors and wrote a computer program to pull all the info from the sensors together. Now I can pick out test microplastics against a random background correctly about 85% of the time.

In a few months, I started winning science fairs and suddenly getting famous. But all along, I’m still a middle school kid juggling homework and chores, arguing with my family, and trying to figure out what I want to be and do.

After a bunch of interviews, I decided I wanted to write a book of my own. I love writing, and I want to warn people about the problem of microplastic pollution. I also want kids to know that with a little dedication and creativity, they can engineer their way to solutions too.

Anna and her project have been featured in top media such as CNN, Fortune Small Business, Boston's Channel 25 News, Smithsonian Magazine, Science News, and is soon to be featured on WGBH's design squad as well as a book by Penguin, and several documentaries.  Anna has also recently won an international award that recognizes her environmental work on behalf of all humanity. 


The Book

I have a good second draft of Microplastics and Me written. It’s ~20 chapters, about 25,000 words, and I’m pulling together a ton of photos and diagrams—of plastics, my dog, my contraptions at various stages of development—to go along with the book. The book is autobiographical, with a few names changed to protect the innocent! But I try to be honest about my project and the key things I learned about engineering.

Best of all, I already have a publisher for the book: Tumblehome, Inc., which publishes award-winning science books for kids. (Though not usually BY kids.) I’m working with their editors to make the book the best I can without giving up my voice. After all, this is a kids’ book, and who knows kids better than another kid?

The Project 

Anna wants to get her book to as many kids as possible, so we decided to help by putting together this Kickstarter. Funds will allow us to finance quality artwork, photographs, and design. It will also allow us to order books to give away to schools and libraries in high needs areas, like those recently struck by natural disasters. That means a larger initial print run, which brings down the publisher’s costs and will allow them to sell the book at a lower price, which will make it available to even more kids. We are also working with the publisher to create a free online teacher or afterschool activity guide, to help inspire more young people to tackle engineering and environmental challenges.

Proceeds from this Kickstarter will be spent approximately on the following:

Photos & illustrations - 30%

Design & layout - 15%

Creating free teacher/activity guides - 10%

Kickstarter fees - 9%

Fulfilling rewards - 25%

Half-price books for high needs areas - 11%  (+ money we raise beyond our goal)



Risks and challenges

Tumblehome has been publishing dozens of children's STEM books for around a decade. However, as with any book project, we rely on vendors and outside support companies to help make the publications happen on time. There is always the risk that a title will be late, but in our experience - never too late. Please ask us questions if you have a school group that has a scheduled lesson plan on a particular date or if you have any other concerns. Thank you!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    Acknowledgment on my website!

    Everybody will be recognized one way or another on my author website annadu.org. The minimum cost for this is 1$. Of course, the more you give, the greater the recognition. Every little bit helps! Thank you so much for helping out my project.

    Includes:
    • Listing on my website!
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    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Custom Microplastics & Me bookmarks

    You get an awesome pair of custom bookmarks made just for my book - something useful, scientific and educational. We have a periodic table of elements bookmark as well as one about the electromagnetic spectrum -- both very related to my project and the book!

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    Pledge US$ 17 or more About US$ 17

    A signed early release copy of my book!

    Get an early signed copy of the book, which is slated to be around 20 Chapters, 120 page, plus or minus, with loads of full color pictures, figures, sidebars and fun facts! Not to mention a lot about my own life and ideas about how to approach winning science fairs. Each copy comes with a pair of my custom bookmarks.

    Includes:
    • Copy of my book, pre-release & signed!
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    Pledge US$ 32 or more About US$ 32

    2 signed, pre-release copies of my book!

    Get a great deal and a discount on 2 early, signed pre-release copies of the book. Each copy comes with a pair of my custom bookmarks. Thank you!

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Custom sea glass pendant, Anna-made

    Get a custom seaglass pendant, along with a signed copy of the book and a pair of bookmarks. My time is somewhat limited due to working on science projects all the time, so I am limiting the amount of necklaces that I make (and I may or may not have my mom help me with this a little bit too). Just know that these are pieces I found myself, not from some online store, so they are very special. If you have a particular request, please message/email me and let me know a particular color (we have all kinds) within 30 days after the Kickstarter ends so I can make sure I reserve some pieces for you. Thank you for appreciating wonderful art :-)

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    Pledge US$ 80 or more About US$ 80

    6 signed books donated to a non-profit

    I will donate 6 discounted books, signed, to a non-profit, school, library or after school program of your choice. I will also send a customized letter to this organization acknowledging your donation, along with encouragement to download any professional development tools and videos that are available by that time. I hope to have materials available by mid-Fall, so I am hoping that sending out the books will coincide with the release of some of these materials. I will also kick in a bookmark for each book too. Thanks for helping others!

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    Pledge US$ 280 or more About US$ 280

    Classroom set of 20 books

    Classroom set of 20 books, to a non profit, school or related organization of your choice. Get a great discount on these books, right around launch time! Along with one of my cool custom bookmarks for each book. Please consider having me do a Skype or in-person visit to help get your students excited as well! :-)

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    A thank you listing in my printed book

    Get a pre-release signed copy of my book along with a personalized thank you, and a thank you listing inside my printed book!

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    Pledge US$ 650 or more About US$ 650

    Group lecture, via videoconference ~1 hr

    I will do up to a one hour group lecture or talk related to Microplastics & Me, and my current work to prevent plastics from ending up in our oceans, along with Q&A - by Skype, WhatsApp, FT, or WeChat or any other similar videoconferencing tool that I am familiar with (just ask me; I can probably figure out how to use a new one too). It is my preference that this be done for a non profit, school, library or similar organization, but if you are a for-profit or other organization, please just contact me in advance and we can talk about it. As part of this I will be sure to send you a signed copy of the book in advance when it's available! Please contact me in advance to make sure I can meet your schedule requirements too. Please note I am very free in the summers, but can schedule times during the weekdays too in Fall and Spring with advance notice too. Note that I am limiting these rewards as I also need time to keep up with my research too. Thanks for understanding!

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    Pledge US$ 1,200 or more About US$ 1,200

    In person lecture, PPT & Q&A, half day

    I will go to a non-profit educational organization, such as a school, library, or other similar location and do a full in-person lecture during class time, which may include several school periods or up to about 2.5 hour assembly time within one calendar day. Time will need to be scheduled well in advance, and be sure to contact me before signing up for this reward to make sure I have availability. I can do a PPT, with rich videos and Q&A, as well as readings from my book and potentially guided activities. Please reach out to me in advance and make sure we have an agreement on the scope ahead of time. I will honor this for up to a year after the kickstarter, and believe me, my time is already filling up doing these! I really love these opportunities, but I want to make sure I do a quality job so I am limiting this award to 3 engagements per year. As always, this includes a signed copy of the book in advance. Up to 50 miles from Boston, MA; negotiable if travel reimbursement.

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Funding period

- (35 days)