CSO Allie, Oregon, USA

As a senior in high school, I’ve recently been part of an important project that helps healthcare workers and makes me feel better about the way the school year is ending. In the past few months many people have worried about running out of medical supplies. Hospitals are running out of supplies, and are only now starting to slowly have enough. The biggest concern is masks, gloves, and ventilators. While the last two are a bit hard to make at home, masks are the easiest to make. The Frontier STEM Hub in Malheur County decided to do something to help hospitals. Some students, Chief Science Officers from Vale High School and Ontario High School, already had knowledge of how to use 3D printers. 

Mrs. Nickie Shira, the Oregon CSO Regional Lead, reached out to us to ask if we would be interested in printing ear guards and headbands for face shields to send to local hospitals. Through the combined efforts of Mrs. Shira and the students, we have been able to print a lot of supplies to take to medical personnel in our area. 


I first found out about the project from Mrs. Shira. I received an email one day with a link to an article about a boy scout who was printing ear guards. She asked me if I would be willing to do something similar, and I said I would be more than happy to help.

I myself wear a mask at work and it is very painful to wear it for just six hours at a time. Medical workers wear them for way more than that, and I couldn’t imagine the pain they were in. They are on the front lines helping keep us safe, and I want to do something in return to help them. I had been seeing how people were sewing masks to distribute, but I do not know how to sew and did not know how else I could help. Once I found out I could use my 3D printing knowledge, I knew I had to help. 

In order to start making the masks Mrs. Shira brought two 3D printers to my house which I set up in my room. I wear a mask when handling them to keep them clean and safe. It has been pretty fun printing the guards and headbands. I had a few problems the first day with one of the headbands flying off the machine not releasing filament correctly. I fixed the problem, though, and now I can print many headbands a day. As far as I know, there are two or three other students, along with Mrs. Shira, printing supplies right now. Mrs. Shira picks up the supplies and drops them off at the hospitals. The supplies are easy to print. It takes about three hours to print one headband, and about two hours to print seven ear guards. Once the machine gets started it does not need monitoring, so I can leave, work on something else, come back when they’re done, and start over. 

As Chief Science Officers we do our best to help our community educate themselves about STEM. I have participated in many events throughout my two years as a CSO such as STEM Nights. Those events focus on bringing people more into STEM. Being a CSO has helped me grow as a leader and a person. I can speak more confidently with people I do not know, and can lead a group to finish a task with ease. The thing I love most, though, about being a CSO is the impact we have on others. I love seeing the faces of younger students when they understand a concept, or parents when they help their child build something. It makes me feel amazing how we can reach people. Next year I will not be Chief Science Officer since I am graduating, but I hope to still connect with my school and the continuing and new CSOs. I plan to attend Boise State University and major in civil engineering. The knowledge I have gained from the CSO program will help in college and in life to be a better leader and STEM professional. 

Printing the ear guards and headbands has been an amazing experience. I feel like I can reach the community in a way I wouldn’t have imagined. I can no longer take my autocad class where I used the printers, but this project makes me feel better about missing the end of my senior year. I have the ability to help those on the front lines, something I will feel good about doing for the rest of my life.

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