Students invited to take on a medical face mask design challenge

Oberon High School's Seven Vinton explains how students can help slow the spread of coronavirus

Oberon High School STEM Specialist Seven Vinton has devised an opportunity for students to contribute to slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Medical Face Mask Design Challenge is open to high school students across Victoria and entries will be accepted until Friday, 18 September.

Seven has shared resources developed by Geelong Tech School teacher Lachlan Patrick so students can rise to the challenge at their own schools. Students can either enter as part of a class or as an individual entry, and group entries are permitted. Winning entries will be displayed at Geelong Tech School and on the Design and Technologies Teachers Association (DATTA) website during Geelong Innovation Week from 8 to 14 November.

To register for the Challenge, complete and submit the entry form: 

COVID-19 Medical Facemask Design Challenge Entry form

The Medical Face Mask Design Challenge

The challenge presents two problems for students to resolve.

The first is that most commonly used face masks can only be used once and end up in landfill. They are also not 100 per cent effective at stopping viruses getting through. The challenge is to design a medical-style face mask that can be reused and offers better protection from the virus. Students can use anything from a pencil and paper to CAD design tools and 3D printers.

The second challenge is to produce a face mask or range of face masks that would turn wearing a face mask into a public fashion statement, to help encourage people to wear them during virus seasons. This challenge can be completed using pencil and paper, or by using fabric, sewing machines, embroidery, laser cutting, or screen printing. Again, the choice of tools, techniques, and materials is up to the student.

Seven says he decided to run the Medical Face Mask Design Challenge to provide an opportunity for students to contribute to the world knowledge base working to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

'This ability to adapt to new situations is a skill that we strive to build in our students, and a skill that is very much part of the 21st century skill set,' he says.

'Talking with my classes about this situation that we are now in, I have come to realise that they have been thrust into a situation which they have very little control over.

'It can be  overwhelming and frightening for young people in this situation, especially given the complexity of the COVID-19 virus and all of the unknowns, and yet we are aware of amazing stories of young people who have risen to the challenge of finding ways to help the world through this crisis.'

These include 13-year-old Canadian Boy Scout Quinn Callender who has helped his country's hospitals by 3D printing face mask 'ear guards', to help protect the ears of healthcare workers. Other groups of people around the world have been helping with materials and designs which are improving the medical face mask design to help make it safer and more efficient.

More information

Visit the Medical Face Mask Design Challenge web page
Find out more about the competition and access resources