MADISON, NJ - As people in Madison and throughout New Jersey, continue to practice social distancing, a few educators are making their time in quarantine count.
For the past four weeks, Madison teachers have banded together to bring home their 3D printers to create personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators, face shields, ear protectors and masks with 3D ear straps for health care workers.
“When we began our quarantine and distance learning, I was watching the news and saw the need for personal protection equipment in hospitals,” said Jason Erdreich, from Randolph, who teaches 6-8th grade engineering at Madison Junior School, and acts as the department coordinator for Technology, Engineering, and Design for Madison Public Schools.
“Doctors, nurses, and anyone on the front lines were quickly running out of masks, respirators, gloves, and all of the equipment needed to keep them safe. Many companies and organizations, including Madison school district, donated all the PPE they had to local hospitals, but it was clear that this would not be enough to sustain.”
“I saw a movement taking place in social media called "hack the pandemic" that I found to be incredibly inspiring and motivating. Makers, designers, and tinkerers from across the globe were using their own shop equipment to fabricate DIY PPE and donate them to those in need. I began producing some masks using my own personal 3D printers, but I thought that we could make a much bigger impact with our resources across the Madison schools. So, with support from our Madison admin, I was able to bring home all of the 3D printers from MJS and each elementary school to produce more PPE quicker.”
“Then, I connected my efforts with the STEM teacher from Madison High School, Mr. Garrera, who brought home his classroom’s 3D printers. We teamed up with our STEM counterparts in Chatham and Livingston schools and collectively have access to 30 3D printers in our at-home maker spaces. We started by producing respirators with removable cotton filters that could be reused, but these have been in less demand over the last couple weeks. Instead, hospitals are now looking for face shields and ear protectors for surgical masks so that’s what we have been printing. Initially the files we were making were ones that were published online, but as we began to produce more and interact more with those on the front lines, I have been able to design our own PPE prototypes that is really making a huge difference in keeping our heroes safe.”
Recently, a dozen Madison teachers and a few of their own students have joined forces with educators in Chatham and Livingston, sharing supplies and constructing equipment. Even as public school remain closed, and classes are taken online, educators continue to help combat the COVID-19 crisis, hoping for an end to the pandemic.
“It’s something I feel we have to do,” said Erdreich. “Once we saw the ‘Hack the Pandemic’ movement, we looked at our 3D printers and felt we needed to do this. The health care workers on the front lines are keeping us and our families safe, and this is something that we’re passionate about and happy to do for them all.”
As of now, over 2,800 donations have been made and delivered to multiple health centers and groups, including the Madison EMS, the Madison Board of Education B&G staff, the Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, St. Barnabas Hospital, Morristown Medical, the Holly Manor Center, Sunrise of Morris Plains, Valley Hospital and Beth Israel & Local Offices.
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