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Kids Use Tech To Fight COVID-19, Create Reusable Plastic Masks

OREM, Utah — Two young, aspiring entrepreneurs turned their tech against the novel coronavirus after it changed the economics of their fledgling 3D toy printing business, shutting down schools.

Kayla and William Grover — ages 12 and 10 — decided with their dad that they should help healthcare workers. They started printing plastic reusable masks out of their garage under their “Kaptiva 3D” moniker.

“I think it’s pretty awesome how I’m making a difference just using technology,” Kayla smiled.

The quiet whir of two constantly-moving 3D printers could be heard behind her Friday evening as she stood in her family’s garage. The siblings had already printed more than two dozen masks.

Their father, Shad Grover, said the masks are modeled after the ones he read about online that were developed by doctors in Montana and are designed to stretch the existing supply of surgical masks.

“You cut those masks into squares and put them in these plastic masks that can be sanitized and reused,” Shad Grover said. “He released them, open sourced them and called upon the 3D printing community.”

A disclaimer on the inventors’ website noted that the “mask design is not intended to replace standard protective equipment such as N-95 masks or surgical masks when that equipment is available,” but stated that the design was “intended to assist the general public during the current global pandemic related to COVID-19 and the related nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment.”

“It’s kind of cool to actually — in a world where you kind of feel helpless because we have this unseen thing hitting us — that we can actually feel like we can do something,” the father said.

Both children said it was nice to focus their energies on a project aimed at helping others, given the time they’ve had to stay at home.

Governor Gary Herbert issued a directive early Friday urging people to stay at home as much as possible, at least through April 13.

“It’s been pretty hard,” William Grover said.

His father agreed.

“It’s just been like some kind of unseen thing is happening, and we all have to stay in our houses now,” Shad stated.

The family said it hoped to donate the masks to healthcare workers.

“It feels pretty good to do that for other doctors and help patients,” William Grover said.

They said they are also selling masks on a limited basis for personal use to help offset the costs of the materials they use.

They set up PayPal and Venmo accounts as well for donations to help offset their production costs.

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