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Student Features

PA Cyber student makes, donates face shields to frontline workers amid coronavirus pandemic

May 13, 2020

Donna Cunningham has always enjoyed working alongside her dad, Kevin, helping to fix his car, and doing other projects. So when he asked her if she wanted to help make face shields for healthcare workers in need, she jumped at the chance.

"I really like helping people," she said. "My dad asked me to help and it feels pretty good that we're helping the whole community."

The eighth grader from Dillsburg has been using her dad's 3-D printer to make face shields that she donates to medical workers and first responders who need protection while they treat coronavirus patients. She has made 110 so far and has a goal of making at least 200.

Donna said that making face shields is a slow process that requires patience. First, she had to design what the frames would look like using a CAD app. Then it takes about 50 minutes for one frame to print. She says she sometimes plays with her little brother while she waits for that phase to complete. When the printing process is over, Donna attaches the frames to sheet protectors that she makes using clear, three-ring binder sheet protectors and a three-hole punch. She outfits each face shield with three plastic sheets so that they can be changed out.

So far, she has shipped the majority of her face shields to Long Island, NY, as well as to Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill, the Upper Allen Fire Department in Mechanicsburg, Arnold Palmer Cancer Center in Greensburg, two hospices, a neonatal intensive care unit, and ManorCare and UPMC, both in Pittsburgh.

Jesse Light, Donna's eighth-grade blended science class teacher was so encouraged when she heard about her student's efforts and wanted to share the story to uplift others.

"Donna is an excellent student who brightens every science class with her enthusiasm and curiosity," Light said, "and I wanted to share this good news about how she has been helping medical workers all across the state."

Her father taught her how to print and she has been using his 3D printing machine along with five other machines that he borrowed. He redesigned the program on the machines to get her started. As a youngster who enjoys drawing, painting and art, she has never had the opportunity to use her creativity to help meet a public health need until now.

"I've printed other things, but not for a big emergency," she said. "I always wanted to print a 3D horse and have started on that." She so far has printed the back legs and hopes to finish the rest of it soon.

For Easter, I helped my dad design stands for the eggs we hollowed out and painted to look like Faberge eggs," she said.

Her dad said 3D printing is a hobby that he plans to turn into a business. He taught computer programming and design to his daughter, whom he describes as a good student full of energy. She was able to keep up on her schoolwork while contributing her time to the project.

He said he and his wife, Renee, are very impressed with their daughter.

"We're super proud of Donna and how hard she works, and how willing she is to give."

Media Contact

Casie Colalella / casie.colalella@pacyber.org

About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.