Saturday, July 18, 2020

Sailing the Seas of Citizen Science

In the 3rd and final part of my series following some of the 2019-2020 Severn School Van Eney Fellows Projects, activism and advocacy continue as senior (now graduate) Baillie McNitt merged her love marine biology, citizen science, and global health initiatives to to a deep dive into microplastics. Her project involved constructing a Low-impact Aquatic Debris Instrument, or LADI trawl, which came to be known as True the Trawl. Additionally, she created a YouTube channel to curate & document her beach clean up and more.

Using her LADI trawl, she also analyzed and classified her microplastics findings into 5 groups to determine the original source of plastics: fragments, fibers, foams, nurdles, and microbeads. By having this level of research, Baillie was better able to make the connection to the item--which ultimately helps keep marine debris out of our waterways. From there, she created a set of guidelines to help people reduce their use of plastic.

Here is Baillie's 6 minute "TED Talk" style explanation of her project.
Van Eney '09 Fellows: Bailey McNitt '20 from Severn School on Vimeo.

To learn more about Baillie's design process and project, check out her Fellows website. Of particular interest, check out her video page on her website. My personal favorite: "Seven Household Products that Contribute to Micropollution."

Going forward, even though there will be college life after Severn, you can't take the environmentalist out of Baillie. She has plans to share some information from of her Fellows project with Severn's Surfrider Instagram page to promote reducing marine debris.

As you go forward, think about the big and little things you can do in your house to minimize your plastic use. If you don't use it, it certainly won't wind up in our waterways!

Video from, Compilation image created at using pictures from Baillie's website: and micro plastic image from

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