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.
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.
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?
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)