Robinson School 9th grader, Elena Viola Haeussler Tamargo, is a Girl Scout and part of our Troop 052. Her interest in the sea and everything that has to do with the environment, how we can protect it, and improve our quality of life, is the reason she developed her Silver Medal Project Sea of Change – The Adventures of Microplastics. She designed the project to create awareness about microplastics and the negative impact they have on the environment.
Elena chose this subject after first learning about the impact of garbage, plastics, and other contaminants in the ecosystem while attending 3rd grade. The experience motivated her to research the subject further, developing an interest in what we can do to improve the environment as we go about our daily lives.
One of the things she learned was how microplastics negatively affect our environment during their adventures in the ecosystem. Microplastics can absorb chemicals that cause damage to the different components of the ecosystem. These chemicals can spread and, as a result, eventually affect flora and fauna of an area.
As part of her efforts to complete her Girl Scouts Silver Medal project, she performed research of written material and also interacted with people or entities with knowledge of the problem and its causes. Amongst them, she contacted the Programa del Estuario de la Bahía de San Juan and was able to discuss the issue and learn from subject matter expert Cristina Ramírez.
Once she was able to gather information and review different sources, the presentation began to take shape, emphasizing those data points that could help people become aware of how we are so close to this problem, and many are unaware of its existence. Microplastics are not only in the sand we find on our coasts; they are present in products we use as part of our daily lives.
Through the use of technology and social media, she began to share information on Microplastics with the general public. The idea was to provide content that is direct and easy to understand so that people would eventually develop an interest. As of today, people in Puerto Rico, the United States, and Europe have viewed the information she has shared.
The project was named Sea of Change – The Adventures of Microplastics because she believes this is an effective way to present the problem while making it interesting for all groups and ages. When we look at what happens with microplastics, it all starts with a product we use at home or a piece of clothing we place in the washing machine. These microplastics then move through different means, making their way to flora and fauna. When we consume animals, like seafood, these microplastics, if present, could make their way back to the human body.
Follow Elena’s project on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about her adventure and microplastics.
We are very proud of your initiative Elena! Keep up the great work!