Topeka students using 3-D printer to make masks, donating to healthcare workers

Education 21st Century

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Students in Topeka are using their talents to give back during the pandemic.

The 3-D printer lab at TCALC has been busy with students making plastic masks for healthcare workers.

“We would start them in the morning and then have someone come in the afternoon, start them again and they’d print overnight,” Evelyn Eubank, a teacher at TCALC, said.

They’ve made 125 masks to donate to employees at Stormont Vail and St. Francis.

“It’s supposed to nearly completely cover your face, your nose, and your mouth. along with these pieces, holding the filter to make sure that nothing escapes, nothing gets in,” Garrett Jones, a recent graduate and student at TCLAC, said.

But printing the masks wouldn’t be possible without donations like the $500 they got from the Topeka Public School Foundation.

“The foundation paying for that and also paying for the other materials, made all the difference in our ability to go forward with this,” Eubank said.

The Topeka Public School Foundation is a non-profit that raises money for public school education in Topeka to use on things like scholarships and grants.

“Real important that we’re able to support our educators in that way and allow them to be creative and do things that give opportunities to our students that otherwise wouldn’t be afforded them,” Pamela Johnson-Betts, the foundation’s director said.

The students started working on the 3-D masks in April. They’re made from a prototype of the N-95 masks and take five hours each for the 3-D printers to make.

“Pressing it, it’ll heat up, it’ll start going and then once it’s done after the five hours, we take ’em off and start it all over,” Jones said.

The coronavirus isn’t something any of the staff or students at TCALC were expecting, but said they’re more than willing and ready to help.

“We focus not only on the skills that they might use later in their career, but also that whole idea of giving back,” Evelyn said.

“Surprises happen, and i’m just glad that i could be someone that actually helps out in a surprise of this sort, any way that I can,” Jones said.

Talks to continue printing the masks this summer at TCALC are up in the air and will be decided by the district.

For more information on the Topeka Public Schools Foundation, click here.

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