the inspiring story of Anna Du 


If you’re in need of some wholesome content then this story of high-schooler Anna Du might just do the trick. While walking along her local beaches in Andover, Massachusetts, the young student began collecting all the plastic bags and bottles that had been left there. But what she noticed was the number of tiny plastic pieces—or microplastics—that were impossible to pick up. At just 12 years old, Anna set out to help solve the problem. After testing a few prototypes in her backyard, she invented a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that uses an infrared camera to detect microplastics on the ocean floor. More recently, Anna has also created a simulation model that uses artificial intelligence in order to actually predict where microplastics are located.


Anna’s robot invention has earned her awards at top science fairs in the US and she’s now a nationally recognized advocate for microplastics awareness and pollution prevention. She says, ‘When I first started doing science fairs, I had no idea that a young girl without lots of money and just a little advanced engineering knowledge could make a difference in the world. I’ve learned that I truly love working on a problem that’s so much larger than me.’


As well as her AI-powered robot, the young inventor has also established the Deep Plastics Initiative campaign (DPI) to educate others about how to prevent and clean up plastic pollution in marine environments.

teen inventor builds a robot that can detect microplastics in our oceans
images and main video courtesy of Anna Du



Microplastics & Me


Now, aged 16, Anna is releasing a new book to help spread the word not only about the dangers of microplastics but also about the ways to mitigate this problem. Titled ‘Microplastics & Me’, the book follows Anna’s own story of how she went from worrying about the environment to designing award-winning solutions. Writing for kids her own age, Anna alerts her readers to the threat of microplastic pollution and urges them to care about the environment. She leads them through the frustrating-yet-rewarding process of design, engineering, and invention. 


video courtesy of Tumblehome Books



The book hopes to encourage young students to get into STEM subjects and to inspire a new generation of inventors and engineers. What’s more, Anna has even raised more than $7,000 to distribute the book free to kids and libraries in high-need communities. You can find it at Tumblehome Books and you can follow Anna’s work on her website here.