Hero photograph
Collecting microplastics in a Southland waterway
Photo by Microinvestigators project team

The pervasiveness of plastic

Lesley Brook —

Website development by our staff and students helps to showcase findings on microplastics distribution in our southern waterways.

Microplastics are now everywhere in our environment, even inside our bodies. Dr Christine Liang at Southern Institute of Technology initiated the Microinvestigators project to raise awareness about the problem with young people and their whanau. She works with teams of school students to gather samples from inland waterways in Southland. The students lower a net into a stream for half an hour, then examine their catch using a microscope. Project stakeholders are Invercargill City Council and Enviroschools Southland.

Otago Polytechnic Senior Lecturer Martin Kean supervised eight Level 7 Bachelor of Design (Communication) students, who designed and developed a website and associated branding for the project. The aim was to showcase the work of Dr Liang and her team, and the brand logo represents the tiny pieces of plastic they are finding. The Design students produced an Instagram feed, business cards, posters, animations, social media calendar, a large banner design and a suite of films for the project. A green screen for the Microinvestigators’ hui in Invercargill July 2021 meant people could be photographed and filmed against a microscopic underwater filled with small plastic particles, as if they were in a world of microplastics themselves.

The Microinvestigators website derives its data from an online spreadsheet to make it easy for the school students to upload their microplastic counts and fibre data as well as images. Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Information Technology Principal Lecturer Adon Moskal contributed his coding expertise to display an interactive map and charts on the website. The website also features a blog for Dr Liang to report on project developments.