MIDDLETOWN — Fifth-graders enrolled in an elementary school’s STEM Academy are eagerly awaiting the results of testing conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to see if their do-it-yourself air filter is capable of removing viruses and improving air quality.
Macdonough Elementary School uses project-based learning in its science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused studies. “My students are curious. They’re problem-solvers. Those are the skills you need in the 21st century,” STEM Academy teacher John Ferrero said.
A student’s grandmother sent an article to his class in September about Corsi-Rosenthal filters, simple-to-make devices using a box fan and furnace filters, which inspired them to try and create their own to determine if they made the classroom “healthier,” he said.
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Last week Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists started testing “Owl Force One,” a low-cost, do-it-yourself “Corsi-Rosenthal” box air purifier that can protect against infectious aerosols, like the virus that causes COVID-19. The testing is taking place at the EPA Homeland Security Division Laboratory’s high-tech, advanced biochamber, UConn Health announced. “We’re here to test ‘Owl Force One’ against MS2. A student from Connecticut has created this box with her classroom of fifth graders.
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Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that his administration will release $150 million to help upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in Connecticut public schools to improve air filtration.
But medical staff and scientific researchers working on the University of Connecticut’s Indoor Air Quality Initiative say schools can improve the quality of their air with a $64 purchase at their local hardware store.
The program – led by Marina Creed, a nurse practitioner at the UConn Health Comprehensive MS Center – has already provided 200 so-called ‘Corsi-Rosenthal boxes’ to Coventry public schools, 100 to elementary school cafeterias in West Hartford, 10 at the Hartford Public Library and more at the South Park Inn Shelter in Hartford.
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