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UArizona co-op extension, 4-H program join fight against COVID-19 with prototype designs for ventilator parts

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UArizona co-op extension, 4-H program join fight against COVID-19 with prototype designs for ventilator parts

TUCSON - The Blue Ridge University of Arizona 4-H Fab Lab is joining the fight against COVID-19 by making protective gear and prototypes of new designs for ventilator parts.

The 4-H fabrication laboratory, or Fab Lab, at Blue Ridge School District, includes a collection of digital fabrication equipment and electronics platforms normally available for use by students and community members.

This week, while observing social distancing guidelines, a couple of students at the Fab Lab started working on face shields and hope to have 300 finished by the weekend to give to the Whiteriver Indian Hospital on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

The two students were supervised by Kevin Woolridge, a science and math teacher at Blue Ridge High School and Steve Gouker, the Navajo County Extension director.

"In addition to doing online school during the school closure, the 4-H physics and engineering students are also helping to ensure that our first responders, medical professionals and community have the equipment and supplies they need to stay safe," Woolridge said.

Furthermore, along with the face shields, Woolridge and his team have been utilizing the Fab Lab's 3D printer to create a prototype of an H-tube, a ventilator part that enables a single ventilator to be used by four patients in case of an emergency shortage.

Woolridge connected with UArizona Health Sciences physicians and scientists to test the prototype using artificial lungs, according to Faith Schwartz, the UArizona Cooperative Extension spokesperson.

"The 4-H Fab Lab serves as an excellent example of our Cooperative Extension mission delivery, which is basically to bring the university to the people of the state of Arizona and bring science to bear on practical problems," said Jeff Silvertooth, associate dean and director of UArizona Cooperative Extension.