In a word? Kindness. Our Bobcats are many things: they are intelligent, they are resourceful, and they are driven towards success. Most importantly, if our Bobcats see that someone needs help, they will go out of their way to make sure that person is supported. In this specific case, a group of our students have embarked on an amazing project to help our front line medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 11 of our students have been working diligently in various ways to support the local medical community.
Uplifting Hope Together is a community focused group comprised of BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Students including Andrew L. (class of 2022), Anthony Z. (class of 2020), Aprille X. (class of 2022), Bridget L. (class of 2024), Chris T. (class of 2025), Christopher Z. (class of 2022), Ellie X. (class of 2024), Evan W. (class of 2023), Maximus W. (class of 2024), Melinda W. (class of 2026), and Vienna S. (class of 2025). During our first week of distance learning, Aprille and Ellie reached out to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SVVMC) to find out what types of supplies they needed. This amazing group of students then used their own money to purchase and donate medical supplies such as gloves, hand sanitizer, antiseptic, and other items for sanitation. As this project continues to grow, their priority is making donations to hospitals and nursing homes, to help keep at risk staff and residents safe. Many family members and friends were also encouraged by their efforts, and over 5,000 masks were donated by those inspired by Uplifting Hope Together. With their message resonating with so many, it is really impossible to tally their impact.
Aprille and Ellie with a trunk full of donations
Aprille and her family were initially inspired to get involved in helping the medical community through efforts that they learned about from fellow BASIS Independent families and others in their community. From here, Uplifting Hope Together was formed.
The members of Uplifting Hope Together also did enough fundraising to donate $1,000 to a local organization called Citizens for Better Community (CBC), which promotes community involvement and education. CBC used those gifted funds to purchase medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves and face masks to protect community members from COVID-19.
This group of students are not only engaged in fundraising and procuring donations. There is far more to do than that! Anyone who has spent much time with a BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Bobcat knows that they are problem solvers. One of the most impressive, but not all that surprising, aspects about this endeavor is that a few of these students have taken to fabricating medical grade PPE face shields. Several in the group are avid robotics enthusiasts, and are using the knowledge and skills they have learned from robotics courses and competitions to fabricate PPE. Their robotics team is backed by a nonprofit called Tech Dreams Foundation, and this particular project dovetailed perfectly with the program. Dreams stands for Design, Robotics, Engineering, Art, Math and Science. These students are utilizing each and every one of these elements in their efforts.
Andrew and Aprille working with staff at SCVMC to determine if their PPE fit the medical specifications necessary to keep front line staff safe
Andrew is so dedicated to this cause that he has published his schematics online as a reference to encourage other students to help out. He hopes that as many students as possible will join in on their efforts, and he has been happy to see the exchange of resources in his robotics community as many have begun making face shields. During all of this, shipping times have increased exponentially, and it has been difficult to source what they need. These amazing students have been supporting each other remotely, helping to source products or share leads on equipment. When asked why this was a project he was excited to participate in, he explained, "I think that in times of crisis like what we are experiencing now, people who are able to help out should help in any way that they can. We should all try to contribute whatever we can to our medical professionals, who are fighting on the front lines to protect us."
Andrew in mid fabrication
Aprille, Andrew, and Evan have so far produced just under 50 of the face shields, and are able to make just under eight a day collectively as a group (if they worked for 18 hours straight, and did nothing else). Evan shared that there are some inherent limitations in 3D printing, in that it is just a slow process. "A set of four masks could take 40 hours from start to finish. It's a breeze, it just takes time." Being that they are all full time students, this is how they have been dedicating their free time once their school work is complete. Their face shields have been approved for use at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose Regional Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, PAMF COVID-19 Clinic, and On Lok Lifeways.
The medical personnel responsible for approving the face shield prototypes have offered helpful feedback, and have been open to exchanging design ideas to make sure that the finished product meets the needs of the staff who will be wearing them. Evan explained that Valley Medical Center offered helpful feedback "to add padding on the inside of the headbands to make them more comfortable for the medical staff to wear."
Evan wearing one of the face shields that he created
Aprille has learned a significant amount from this project. She has gained insight into the professionals working in the medical field, and in those fields adjacent to their production project. This was an unexpected take away, but an experience that will help her as she transitions to college and her professional life. She explained, " I feel more comfortable with how actual organizations and workplaces operate, especially in times of stress." The most important thing she has learned from this experience however, is that "this project builds compassion and generosity; two especially important traits in an ever so competitive society. This is important for students to see."
Uplifting Hope Together will continue to find ways to support the medical community. While California has earned the right to be cautiously optimistic based on how our curve is flatter than initial medical models predicted, we know that we still have a long way to go. Current models continue to change daily, but it is clear that our shelter-in-place efforts are helping. Community members like these Bobcats are inspiring during these unprecedented times, and BASIS Independent Silicon Valley could not be more proud of these kind citizens.
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a grades 5-12 private middle and high school based in San Jose, California, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum.