Teacher-coach John Galler has found a creative way to help hundreds of healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic: He's using a Lower School 3-D printer!
After the governor closed all Virginia schools in an effort to control the worldwide pandemic, Dr. Galler '93 - who is Coordinator of our Engineering, Design, and Innovation program - brought the Lower School's EDI 3-D printer home so he could help from there with relief efforts.
The equipment has spent about 180 hours printing so far.
This week, Dr. Galler sent off more than 100 comfort straps. These are worn behind the head, and the face masks attach to the printed strap instead of resting behind the ears, preventing ear irritation.
Earlier this month, Dr. Galler shipped parts to make 50 face shields. He printed different styles for two different distributors, both companies that provide shields to health care workers around the country.
Dr. Galler teaches EDI to fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. He starts each topic by teaching students an engineering concept, then working through with them how to apply that concept. Lastly, the class uses that knowledge to build something to benefit somebody else.
For example, when he teaches electrical engineering for fourth grade, students apply the knowledge by making light-up greeting cards for people. For sixth grade 3-D design, students use CAD software to print custom book-bag tags for their second grade buddies.
“This seemed like an opportunity for me to lead by example by helping out with a large effort, and reach people around the country from my own garage," Dr. Galler said.
Moving the 3-D printer from school and setting it up at home led to initial issues that took time to troubleshoot, but eventually everything ran pretty smoothly, he added.
Most of the first batch of PPE went to Operation Shields Up!, a volunteer group offering free face shields to healthcare providers.
Some of his first batch and all of the second went to MatterHackers, which connects hospitals and others who need supplies to those who create them using digital manufacturing. The group has delivered more than 32,000 pieces of 3-D printed personal protective equipment.
Dr. Galler is also helping Print to Protect, which provides free PPE in the Washington DC area and beyond.
To learn more about our EDI program and many Lower School offerings, please visit our website.