Middle School Brothers Spark A Movement--3D Printing Thousands Of Mask Extenders For Frontline Workers

LONG ISLAND, New York, June 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- While the world watches the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wash over its communities, medical workers are enduring seemingly endless days caring for the sick. Two young brothers have decided to put their skills to good use, dedicating months of their own time to 3D print surgical facemask extenders that provide much-needed comfort to those on the front lines.

"I saw an article on Facebook about a Boy Scout who was printing mask extenders to help frontline medical personnel wear surgical masks so that their ears wouldn't be irritated by the elastic," said Maria Zografos, mother to Costa and Niko, during their recent feature on the TODAY show. "I showed the article to both of the boys, and that really inspired them and sparked an interest."

Taking initiative is nothing new for the young middle schoolers, who a few years ago created a robotics club after realizing there wasn't one available for their school's students. Dubbed the "Taco Bros" and sponsored by iD Tech, the boys took their robotics team to the FIRST LEGO League Championships and walked away with the Core Values Inspiration Award--which is given to those who display extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit.

That award-winning spirit is still very much a driving force for the brothers today.

"The boys have spent hours perfecting this process," Zografos continues. "It would have been really easy for them to print a few extenders and be done with it just to say they did something. But they've poured days and days into ensuring they were printing as efficiently as possible, and have even documented the process with written instructions and through their own YouTube channel so that others can join the movement."

To date, the boys have printed and delivered more than 1,600 extenders, even setting an alarm to press the "print" button every hour and a half. And just as impressive, they're inspiring others to do the same.

iD Tech, the summer camp where the boys first started building their 3D printing skills, has allocated a fleet of 3D printers to employee volunteers, including CEO Pete Ingram-Cauchi and Co-Founder Alexa Ingram-Cauchi. iD Tech, collectively, has printed more than 5,000.

These extenders have been donated around the country to those who give selflessly during the pandemic, including the Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Florida, the Ronald McDonald House in New York, Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California.

Not stopping there, the tech education company recently launched a new course as part of their Online Private Lessons - "3D Printing Pro" - to allow other kids to act on their own inspirations, whether creating a practical device or something fun like their own imaginative fantasy creature.

"We knew we wanted to roll out an online 3D printing course as soon as possible so that kids could utilize this time at home to build a brand new skill or passion," says Ricky Bennett, Vice President, Innovation & Partnerships at iD Tech. "But, the logistics of getting a 3D printer into a student's home in time for them to take an online lesson was a different challenge...Niko and Costa truly inspired us to prioritize solving that challenge--and we have. Now, the 3D printing course is easily the most popular of our Online Private Lessons."

Facing depleted resources, and more to endure before the light at the end of the tunnel is reached, every single action, no matter how big or small makes a difference. The Zografos family has spent days, weeks, and months perfecting the printing process in order to maximize their resources and effect. While one set of extenders would have been helpful, printing 36 a day is hugely impactful.

"It feels amazing to know that you're helping other people, and making such a big positive impact on their life, keeping them safe. It's just a really good feeling to have. Together, we can be a force for change," the boys explained.

Considering the fact that the Zografos Brothers will be printing for the foreseeable future and have now reached the masses through their feature on the TODAY show and iD Tech's newly released 3D printing course, they are definitely doing their part to help those on the front lines find comfort as they tend to those in need--while inspiring many others to do the same.

iD Tech is the world leader in youth STEM education and believes that all students deserve quality tech education. The family company was founded by a mother and daughter over 20 years ago in Silicon Valley and now operates online programs in addition to summer camps at more than 150 locations worldwide. Course topics include coding, 3D modeling, artificial intelligence, robotics, and game design. iD Tech is dedicated to bridging the digital divide and is committed to gender diversity. Since its inception, iD Tech has donated more than $5 million in life-changing educational experiences to underrepresented communities. For more information, visit www.idtech.com.

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