As students and teachers work from home, communicating with each other virtually, there are some inspirational stories unfolding under the unusual circumstances. It was a the Nichols STEM Lab, currently taught at home, that inspired a group of students to take action. Early on, they realized that there was going to be a great need for medical supplies, and they knew that they had the knowhow, and the technology, to make a difference where the pandemic was concerned.
Upper School physics teacher Larry Hiller took up the cause, helping the students to create face shields and masks using the school’s 3D printer. Using this state of the art technology, it takes around 4 hours to knock out a face shield; so far 14 of these protective screens have been fashioned, as the 3D printer runs 24 hours a day. Since this is a relatively time consuming effort, and the need for medical masks is dire, a group of robotics students has joined in to help. Over the course of a week, they have been washing fabric and sewing the masks, which they will then distribute to local medical facilities, along with the 3D printed masks.
“I started this initiative to deliver handmade masks for Roswell Park because I wanted to make an impact on the broader community, especially during these tough times,” Yamato Takabe ’22 said. “Our Nichols community is excellent in supporting students’ ideas.”
“A few weeks ago, we started talking a lot about what we could do to help our community right now, knowing that we would run into challenges since we couldn’t meet up anywhere,” Julia Yohe ’21 said. “We brainstormed for about a week or so and settled on making medical masks. Doctors and hospital staff are doing incredible work, and we decided that helping them would be the best way to help the community, since they are the ones who are keeping us alive right now.”
“I’m just really glad the kids took initiative to organize themselves,” Hiller added. “They are awesome kids and just want to be helpful. This is what is great about robot teams.”
For anyone looking to 3D print their own medical masks, the first medically-approved design for 3D printed protective masks has been developed by Mask Maker. The open source program – a nonprofit initiative – is available online, according to The Daily Mail.
Lead image: Landon Weber ’21