The Deep Plastic Initiative is the brainchild of middle school student Anna Du – whose project on detecting and cleaning up microplastics won numerous nationally and internationally recognized science competitions over the past several years. Anna started this initiative in 2018 to help spread awareness about the issues of plastic/microplastic pollution in our oceans and to inspire other students like herself to take action. Anna is joined by a small team of leading scientists/engineers and education experts who serve as mentors for DPI’s outreach/education and research projects.


DPI is a platform for sharing information and ideas as well as working together. We use the latest science and technology to keep ourselves informed about the world around us and to find solutions to real world problems that affect us all – in our own homes, local communities, and around the globe. We believe that the best way to learn things is by doing things with your own hands. So, we encourage you to join us to work on science fair projects, educational outreach projects, community-centered cleanup efforts and more!


The name “Deep Plastic” comes from the fact that microplastics are increasingly found on the bottom of the ocean – and they’re getting deeper and more widespread as time goes on. It is also a reference to the technology that Anna works on, which involves “Deep Learning” – a form of artificial intelligence that allows people to study patterns of data, and even make predictions about that data. Many fields of science and engineering (as well as many other fields) use this new form of AI to make improvements in our daily lives, and we hope to see it used for good! Learn more about AI here. Learn more about microplastic pollution here.
Our logo embodies the concepts behind our initiative. The spherical shape represents the most stable shape in the universe – the sphere. This is not only the natural shape of planets, stars and moons – but it is also the most stable shape in the ocean too. As sand grains continue to break down over time, you find that they all eventually become approximately spheres. The same thing happens to microplastics – until eventually, they become tinier and tinier spheres, extremely difficult to break down further. This is why many microplastics are found in the form of tiny balls. The three spheres imply a series of layers/nodes, such as you might find in convolutional neural networks, or “deep learning” programs (which is at the heart of Anna’s newest technology). We believe it is important to advance science and engineering and use the latest technologies available to us, to help people, advance society and even clean up some of the science and engineering mistakes of the past. The atom, of course, signifies the fact that at the heart of this project is a strong underlying message about chemistry. Chemistry is what makes up our Earth and our bodies mankind’s manipulation of chemistry gives us modern medicine, computers, energy, cars and more – but the chemical industry can also cause impact to the environment as a whole. We at DPI are certainly not anti-plastic or anti-chemicals in any way and we want to make that very clear. It is however important to keep in mind the balance of the natural and man-made worlds. Science is a very powerful tool and we must use it ethically. Please share our logo and our core message with others.


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