Introduction: Project Karen: Plastic Filtering

Project Karen is building a device to filter in plastic from the ocean. We as a group learned that people are throwing loads of plastic into the ocean because plastic can take thousands of years to degrade. But because of the plastic which gets broken down by the UV rays of the sun and the waves, plastic are being mistaken for food to marine life. On the top of the food chain, it is us who eats the fishes and plastic will come into our bodies.

As a group, we planned to make project Karen, so that it can filter plastic in the ocean, making the ocean clean for our world.


In this project, we used:

- 5 pieces of bamboo

- Few wood planks

- Several filters

- 4 Engines

- 4 Steamboat wheels

- Wires


- 2 hinges

- bolts, buts, screws

Step 1: Step 1: Collecting Samples

On the first day, we had a tour and learned about plastic in the ocean. An average of 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean. It was really sad to hear about our planet earth getting destroyed by us. In the afternoon, we went to the beach to collect some samples of the ocean and the beach and tested them under the microscope and it was amazing even some micro fibers are actually plastic in the ocean, it's just that we can't see it. This is when we wanted to do something about the ocean.

Step 2: Step 2: Life Cycle of Plastic + Brainstorming With Feedback

On the second day, We learn about the life cycle of plastic. The interesting thing is, human having the plastic in their bodies is part of the cycle. the fish we eat might have microplastic, plastic so small that we can't see.

In the afternoon, we were brainstorming of ideas surrounding the problem of plastic in the ocean, and that's when we starts sketching out Project Karen.

Project Karen is a basic floating thing that collects all the plastic on the surface of the water, even microplastics. it has several filters and you can take out the plastics from it. We planned on building a solar panel but we thought of the cost and it charges the motors too slow and decided to change it to batteries.

Step 3: Step 3: Building Cardboard Prototype

We first listed out all the ideas on the sticky notes and we tried to combine everyone's ideas into one. In the end, we made to look like a spaceship like thing

After thinking of the design on a sticky note, we used foam and cardboard to create our prototype. We used thin foam to create the filter like thing and hot glued the parts together. Some of the parts were erased like the solar panel was erased because it wasn't a good use of money and so we stuck to a basic battery engine. It didn't look as expected, but for a prototype, it looked pretty good.

Step 4: Step 4: Planning on Materials

We thought of the material that can be light but also strong, yet we didn't want to use the 500 dollar budget for getting supplies. We saw that there was a lot of bamboo and wood and that when the bamboo is full of air in the inside, to could help make Karen float. So we used that. There was fabric and fishing nets with small holes and so we used it as filtering material. we tried to used the material that were provided as much as possible, and in the end we didn't use a single budget.

Step 5: Step 5: Building Karen (Part 1)

On the third day, we finally started building the body of project Karen. We used bamboo for the body and built the skeleton of Karen. We thought of building it as a cylinder shape, but it was too hard and scratched that plan and built it to a cube-like shape. We drilled holes on the bamboo and measured it to a 1m x 0.5m x 0.4m. We then put bolts into the holes we drilled to combine and connect all the parts together. At first, some of the places weren't so stable, but we were told that after building the sides of Karen, it would stabilize We then used wood planks as the sides of Karen. At first, Karen didn't look promising, but after trying it in the pool. It actually did float as we wanted it to and gave us more courage to keep on building. But one of the problems was one side of Karen was too light for the other one, so we had to add a weight to balance it out. Overall, it looked pretty good, and I am proud to create something that can work, even if it doesn't looks that nice.

Step 6: Step 6: Building Karen (Part 2)

On the next day, We started building Karen again. Since we already finished the body of Karen, we wanted to build the filters first and made them be able to take out and clean the plastic from the filters while it is still stable and doesn't move around because of the currents of the ocean. we first made wood frames and staple the filtering material onto the frame. we stuck the wooden frame onto the long piece of bamboo that is cut into half as like a slot thing and used long bolts with nuts to stabilize the filters onto place, while we can still take out the filters to clean out of plastic. We then build a top cover that could open and close so that we can take out the plastic and used 2 hinges so that the roof can open. We decided to paint Karen red for fun and was like a waterproof covering for the wood so that the wood won't rot that fast. We used wood and bamboo because it was strong material and there was provided. We used acrylic for the wheel which the motors will turn the wheels to move Karen around so that it could collect plastic from the water current. Unfortunately, We didn't have enough time to st up the motors and wheels, and so we just have a rudder to move around Karen.

Step 7: Step 7: Testing the Final Product

We didn't get to test the product in the end because the motors were not attached but we would suggest that it will move with the water current and filter plastic that way.

Step 8: Reflection

Overall, we think that this is a really good experience for us and give us a chance to help out the ocean. This experience also taught us many valuable lessons that we have learnt throughout the process, ex. learn about the plastic cycle and how to use machines, how to be help out earth even if you're young. This really gave us so much fun as well as being able to make and create things with our own hands.