As the plight of health care workers on the frontline grew, longtime Eastchester teachers Dave O'Neil and Anthony Rich knew the 3D printers that the Discover Camp loans the District could be used now to make a difference.
O'Neil and Rich are using the machines to make face shields for public health workers in hospitals that tend to patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Right when this started, I had read an article on the shortage of shields and did a quick google search and found that a design had already been rendered," said O'Neil. I then called up Anthony and we had two dozen printers operating within a day."
O'Neil continued, "We also understood that 3D printing was only half of the solution. We then deployed two camp owned laser cutters to create the face shield portion that attaches to the 3D printed headpiece."
O'Neil teaches fifth grade at Anne Hutchinson and Rich teaches technology at Anne Hutchinson, Greenvale and Eastchester Middle School. They have assembled a dozen teachers in the tri-state area to make shields using Discover Camp's 60 3D printers. Discover Camp was started in 2008 and evolved into a STEM camp. The camp's printers get loaned to public schools of camp employees during the school year, 24 of which are used in Eastchester.
Each side of the shield is protected with a film layer that health professionals can peel off and clean. The workers then place the protection over their N95 masks. The shields are reusable and one of the original shields has been being used since the outbreak first hit Westchester Medical Center.
To date, the teachers created more than 2,500 shields, and they have enough supplies to make 16,000 as a result of generous donors who contributed to a Go Fund Me Page called, "Shields for Our Heroes."
O'Neil and Rich teach their students and campers about the real-world use of 3D printers but never expected that they would use the machines in this way.
Local PTAs and foundations not only continue to make monetary donations but some have donated printers that will then be returned to their home schools.
"It's a brilliant way to not only help out the cause but to support STEM education in their own schools," Rich said. "Printing the shields have been a distraction from the daily news. We're printing usually 16-18 hours a day. Having doctors, nurses and other health professionals coming to pick up shields every day and showing their appreciation really makes it all worth it. "Our students are also getting involved with a STEM challenge to create something that will help hospital workers"