Season 14 Innovators
After growing up alongside 32 siblings, Sumaiya AlSiyabi learned to operate in busy environments! Living with such a huge family inspired her to become a teacher in her native Oman, tapping into her budding passion for science.
AlSiyabi studied biology education and went on to work as a teacher, educating local youth on the study of organisms and the environment, indulging her love for the subject while providing a well-rounded base of knowledge for the schoolchildren in her community. In 2021, the Omani scientist received an Excellence Youth Award in Science from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth in Oman.
However, five years into her teaching career and after making her own family with three children, she felt stuck in a routine, yearning to dive even deeper into the field of biology. The aspiring scientist decided to pursue a master’s degree in biology from Sultan Qaboos University, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, in Oman, chasing her dream while also balancing her obligations to her family simultaneously.
After graduating, she started developing her invention and applied to Stars of Science for a chance to gain experience from the show’s experts and resources.
About the Project
Despite its multitude of valuable uses, plastic is a harmful and persistent pollutant in our planet’s oceans, accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste according to the UN Environment Programme in their 2021 report “From Pollution to Solution.” As plastic trash continues to accumulate, an increasing amount of microplastics – pieces of plastic that measure up to 5 millimeters long – continue to show up in our aquatic ecosystems, representing a growing threat to the environment and other livelihoods.
AlSiyabi’s Remediation and Disposal of Micro-Plastics would serve as an invaluable tool to help address this issue. Free of harsh chemicals and environmentally friendly, the device is a floating sphere comprised of microbial mats and nanomaterials that dissolves micro-plastics it comes into contact with, under the sun over reduced duration.
The device would float among patches of plastic garbage on our oceans, trapping and disposing of microplastics that break free. Innovative and simple, it could be invaluable in protecting our natural water resources and the wildlife within.
Aquatic animals around the globe have been impacted by rising levels of microplastics, with researchers in the U.A.E. even finding elevated levels of concentration among oyster bed off its coast. These particles by themselves can cause problems in their digestive systems or even soak up toxic pollutants, wreak havoc along every step of the natural food chain if left unchecked.
Furthermore, they can harm the human body. Around 5 grams of micro-plastics are entering our bodies on a weekly basis, and this has been studied to cause a range of problems from inflammation in the lungs or, in more severe cases, cancer.
AlSiyabi’s invention could greatly reduce build-up of microplastics before they have a chance to harm these ecosystems, safeguarding both the environment and the health of our communities.