INDIANA – Working with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, high school students from across Indiana County are combining remote learning with community service.
Joining together as the COVID Avengers, the students have been making face shields for medical workers fighting the global pandemic.
The students have been allowed to take 3D printers home as part of a collaborative STEAM shop project, combining science, technology engineering, art and math.
“It’s a place where students can translate their ideas into physical objects,” said Hilliary Creely, associate dean for research at IUP’s school of graduate studies.
The project actually began before the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 appeared in Pennsylvania, Brad Adams, a Homer-Center High School science teacher, said during a video conference.
“We were talking about a different project altogether,” Adams said. “It was putting together a STEAM shop at IUP and a mirror-image steam shop at Homer-Center High School.”
But then the schools were closed.
“We started talking about how can we help out the local health care workers,” Adams recalled.
Creely contacted Adams, who is an IUP graduate. Creely suggested printing the holders for testing swabs.
From that start, the project moved on to making the face shield holders and attaching the clear shields.
Through Facebook, Amazon and GoFundMe, the Avengers have connected community members who have supported the project by donating materials and money.
“It really is, truly, a community effort,” Creely said. “The community is really getting behind this effort.”
After the Homer-Center students started fabricating face shields, the project expanded to include Marion Center, Penns Manor, Indiana, Blairsville-Saltsburg and Seeds of Faith schools.
Former classmates and colleagues of Adams have launched similar projects in Indianapolis, Indiana – and in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland, York and Westmoreland counties.
Those who have received masks include Indiana Regional Medical Center, Excela Health Systems, Punxsutawney Area Hospital, Citizens Ambulance Service and several area fire and police departments.