• STEM Institute

Responding to a Crisis and Providing Unique Educational Opportunites in Fremont

Updated: May 8, 2020

As Bay Area counties implemented shelter in place ordinances, K-12 teachers had very little notice or preparation to shift to online teaching. An ongoing challenge in the current educational landscape is creating experiences that are engaging and will help students develop much-needed skills. Michele Kerr, a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont and MESA Advisor, has found a creative way to address these concerns, and help the local community.

Kerr shared articles with her Engineering students about people creating protective equipment with 3D printers which launched a grassroots movement that support from parents, her colleagues, a generous donor, her financial planner, and her cable guy. One of the student’s mothers is a nurse who reached out to Ms. Kerr to say that she could really use a face shield. Michele used a 3D printer to create a mask. In conversation with another parent, she realized that an additional need was surgical mask extenders to remove the strain on people’s ears from wearing masks all day. Kerr realized she and her students could meet these needs in their local community.

Ms. Kerr met with the school Makers Club to share their plans to manufacture and share this equipment with the community. Michele noted that the response was instantaneous: “we got a huge request from firefighters and from people who are immunocompromised. There is a huge need out there and people really want masks.” What started as reading assignments for students has become a project that involves Ms. Kerr and eleven high school students who are manufacturing protective equipment and finding ways to distribute it to those in need. Michele prints the materials, leaves them in a bag at the school site where students can pick them up, assemble the pieces, sanitize them, and then leave a finished product for community members. While the masks do not meet the standards for use in a hospital, they are valuable to the community and those who are essential workers and those who are immunocompromised. As Michele says, “students are creative, their parents are creative and we can build a community to help.”

If you would like to know more about the project or would like to support the work, please contact Janiene M. Langford at Janiene.Langford@csueastbay.edu