Everyone is looking for a way to protect themselves during this unsure time. With supplies running low across the country, one Virginia high school teacher found a creative way to help local heroes. With the help of their robotics teacher, Virginia teens created ventilation masks using a 3-D printing farm.
Arcadia High School in Oak Hall, Virginia has an innovation-forward STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and robotics program.
Lead instructor Chris Matthews found a way to give his students a real-world application of what he teaches in his classroom.
When Matthews learned Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital had a shortage of protective gear for nurses and doctors working on those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, he saw an opportunity to use the high school's available 3D printers.
On the high school's private enrichment page, Matthews left an open letter to his students stating, "Greetings everyone! One of the most difficult things to do these days seems to be sitting still! What have I been doing to keep busy? I set up a 3D Printing farm to produce ventilation masks to help with the shortage."
With administration permission and using a design created by Montana dentists, he and his class built the individual filtration systems.
Matthews first made a small batch of 12 masks and when those were successful, he began on his next set of 36 that will be delivered to the hospital later this week.
Narcity spoke to the Community Relations representative of Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, Sally Schreiber, who says the masks have been a source of inspiration.
"The 3D printed masks donated by Arcadia High School are thoughtful solutions to a difficult situation," Schreiber notes. "Mr. Matthews and his family, colleagues and students are heroes in Riverside’s eyes!"
While the masks — aka Montana Masks — are not FDA or NIOSH approved replacements for the N95 masks, Matthews sees it as extending a helpful, kind gesture to locals who are going above and beyond.
On the enrichment page, Matthews quotes Mark Twain: "Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see" and adds, "To that, one might add the phrase Arcadia students say to each other every day, 'We got you.'"