The Circle Tales is sharing its Plastic Free Seas Guide with parents and teachers as a way for children (grades 2-4) to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, 2022. The guide explains how plastic is impacting the ocean and teaches kids how to take action by being an activist, a community builder and an inventor. One of the solutions we explore in the guide is a water soluble 6-pack ring created in 2015 by the Cyber Tigers, a team of 5th grade girls from Austin, Texas.
We recently caught up with Tom Rudwick, the coach of the Cyber Tigers, to ask him about their experience. The girls were inspired to invent the water soluble rings after watching videos of sea animals getting entangled by them or eating them. So the Cyber Tigers designed their rings to dissolve when submerged in water or exposed to enough rain. Their invention won them a runner-up prize of $5,000 at the The FIRST Lego League and they even filed for a patent.
Q: What do you think is the best solution to the plastic pollution problem?
A: The best solution to the problem of plastic in the environment would be to transition to plastics that would degrade quickly when exposed to the environment.
Q: What specific event or story inspired you to develop the water-soluble 6 pack ring?
A: We came up with the idea because we saw stories and videos about animals being harmed by plastic in the environment. We were trying to protect animals from being harmed by six-pack rings.
Q: How did you figure out what materials to use in your ring?
A: We were drinking sodas and cutting the rings up when we came up with the solution to create water-soluble rings that would quickly dissolve in an aquatic environment.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring inventor who is about to create something for the first time?
A: Find out where there is a big need (like fighting marine plastic) and then keep working on finding a solution that meets the need, and is practical and cost efficient.
The Cyber Tigers found inspiration for their solution after hearing stories and seeing videos. They became environmental heroes by coming up with a very creative solution. However, don't forget that no solution is too big or small. For more ideas on the invention process check out student inventor resources.