Ecole North Oyster Grade 2 students Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse was one of 15 finalists chosen for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Little Inventors program.
Between December 2019 and February 2021, NSERC, presented the Little Inventors challenge, Mission: Protect our oceans. The challenge was to get youth engaged in ideas of how to tackle ocean pollution.
The challenge was launched in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), in collaboration with Let’s Talk Science, The Canadian Science Fair Journal, Digital Mi’kmaq, OCAD University, and the support of multiple makers, artisans and animators.
Laforest and McClements’ idea was entered after they completed a Little Inventors class assignment. McClements wanted the invention to be a living animal and chose a jellyfish. Laforest then drew the idea and the pair collaborated on how the invention would work.
La Méduse (the Jellyfish) is a jellyfish-shaped device that removes oil from the ocean. La Méduse’s arms have sponges on them that are connected to tubes that open and close to suck the oil into the sponges. There is a machine inside that wrings the oil out of the sponges. Inside La Méduse’s head is a container for oil and a container for garbage. Once La Méduse collects the contaminants it floats back up to the surface to be emptied by humans.
“I thought of the idea of a jellyfish because animals are scared of the tentacles,” McClements said. “But these tentacles don’t sting, they just scoop up the oil.”
La Méduse would also have a sensor to detect if living creatures were nearby to ensure that the animals and La Méduse are safe.
Laforest and McClements worked with animator, Gabriela Antonini Escovedo to bring their idea to life. Escovedo brainstormed ideas with Laforest and McClements and created a short animated video to show La Méduse in action.
Although their invention hasn’t been physically created yet, Laforest and McClements hope to make La Méduse a reality someday. The young inventors are dedicated to cleaning up the world’s oceans.
“It makes me angry that people just throw their garbage onto the beach,” Laforest said. “My goal is to become a really good swimmer so I can go scuba diving with a garbage bag and pick up as much garbage as I can.”
“I wanted to save the ocean because I don’t want things to die and I think it’s really sad when stuff dies,” McClements said. “I’m going to get a boat, get big tanks, pick up the garbage and put them in the tanks every day.”
La Méduse and the other inventions can be viewed online at protectouroceans.littleinventors.org/exhibition