Two AISB student groups have been awarded the prestigious MYP Innovators’ Grant—a recognition given to only 30 students worldwide. This grant will support the development of a device to filter microplastics and a platform to fight for the ethical treatment of animals. 

AISB’s MYP Coordinator Andy Pontius highlights what an honor this is. “It’s a rigorous selection process,” he says. “The fact that we have two recipients is amazing.”

To understand why these students were chosen, we interviewed each of them about their inspiration, the application process, and of course, what they’ll do with the money.

FLO: The Aquatic Microplastics Filtration Device by Naia H. 

A screenshot from Naia’s interview, where she demonstrates a simplified version of her prototype.

A new student last year, Naia took the challenge upon herself, working independently to create a working product with potential to help many. Her product consists of an attachment for boats or buoys which uses its curved shape as suction to take in ocean water. The various layers of filters act as a filtration system to collect microplastics. Her design was developed with a one-way opening in order to ensure that the sediments that enter the device do not leave.  

“As an international student I’ve seen a lot of cases in which communities suffer due to lack of water sanitation,” she says.

One of her most distinct memories was when a tour guide explained the dependency on water of the rural communities in her home country, Indonesia. This information sparked an inner interest and left her with the desire to do something about it.

Initially, her concept was to design a smaller scale project in order to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. But once she came across the MYP Grant, her idea for a microplastic collection sieve grew to a larger scale boat attachment. “I immediately wanted to do it because I knew it was a really big opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” she explains. 

When Naia submitted the formal application to the IB, she included an elaborate funding plan that detailed costs of producing a 3D printed outer shell and metal filters. These processes are typically expensive, especially if they are to be paid by an individual. Fortunately, the costs were fully covered and she will receive 7,200 euros to develop her project and bring it to life. 

As of now it is an independent service-oriented project that has not yet been finished. However, once done, Naia will consider submitting to possible investors; and if they show interest, she will possibly commercialize it. This of course will come second to her overall goal: to make it accessible for rural communities, especially the ones who rely on water for survival. 

Ethically Speaking: A Platform for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, by Iulia P, Eliza O, and Tina P.

Clockwise, from top: Eliza O, Iulia P, and Tina P: friends and animal activists.

Many of us can relate to the feeling AISB student Iulia P had during the online learning period last year. She felt constrained and was in search of something to occupy her time. As a solution, she worked with her friends and fellow classmates, Eliza O and Tina P, to create, an educational Instagram account to raise awareness about the unethical treatment of animals. 

The three girls had been involved in the service learning group PAWS since their freshman year; but it wasn’t enough. “We wanted to feel like we weren’t just doing it to tick the service learning box,” says Iulia.

When the group came across the MYP Innovator’s Grant opportunity, they couldn’t pass it up. Now, their beloved Instagram account could expand into a wider-scale website to ensure more like-minded people could volunteer and help animals in Romania. The vision for this platform is to allow users to sign up for volunteering opportunities, make virtual adoptions, donate to shelters, and learn about the local treatment of animals. 

“By doing this we become conscious of the issues and decide to take action,” says Tina. “When you don’t know, you don’t care.”

Brainstorming for the application brought to light the true need for a platform like this one in our community. The girls explained the typical excuses people use to avoid doing something about the mistreatment of animals. The platform will eliminate many of these, with a virtual adoption section. 

Above all they wish to maintain the same initial goal they had with their Instagram account: to educate and raise awareness. Their ultimate hope is to cultivate an environment of learning without judgement. “We want this to be a safe space for people where they won’t be attacked,” says Iulia. 

Congratulations to all the winners of the grant! We can’t wait to see what you will achieve with your projects.