Kids make seaweed biomaterials at the ULUU Lab

Ben Courtney
October 6 2021

High-achieving Perth students from Year 5 and 6 visited us at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre (IOMRC) to make a special type of seaweed biomaterial and learn more about ULUU.

The students are part of this year’s Primary Extension and Challenge (PEAC) program, hosted by the University of Western Australia (UWA) under the leadership of Dr James Hehre, Operations Manager at IOMRC. To find out more, follow this link.

With the supervision of Dr Julia Reisser, the students produced their own edible bioplastic out of alginate, an ingredient from seaweed. If you would like to try making it yourself, see the instructions provided in our video tutorial.

The PEAC students making seaweed biomaterials with the ULUU team.

The kids also learnt that producing biomaterials from renewable resources is far better for the environment than making plastics out of fossil fuels. This is especially true for sustainably cultivated seaweed as these marine plants provide habitats to marine organisms while oxygenating and cleaning up our oceans.

After the practical, the students met our biotech lead Dave who introduced the students to ULUU – another example of a biomaterial made from seaweed.

Dave sharing his work with the PEAC students in the ULUU lab.

White ULUU powder and brown and blue additive pigments from bamboo waste and microalgae respectively.

To finish, the students discussed some real-world applications of seaweed biomaterials.

It was great to hear their suggestions for clever uses of ULUU, such as for fishing lines and disposable medical masks.

Above all, it was inspiring to see how engaged the students were to learn about marine science and their enthusiasm to protect our marine environments. 

Michael and Julia discussing uses of seaweed biomaterials with the PEAC students.

The morning was a lot of fun, with many of the students leaving eager to learn more and over half wanting to work at ULUU when they grow up – amazing!

In the future, UWA intends to expand the program geographically and to high schools, adult learning and community groups to provide the opportunity for all to learn more about the exciting innovations taking place at the IOMRC.

For more updates see our News tab and follow our social medias linked below.