Story Scouts producing DIY air cleaning filter boxes


First graders Sabrina (black top) Dusheck and Leah Blaidsdell peer into the air filter they helped build to count the covid corpses in the bottom of the box. They counted eight. Staff photos Brian Larsen

First graders Sabrina (black top) Dusheck and Leah Blaidsdell peer into the air filter they helped build to count the covid corpses in the bottom of the box. They counted eight. Staff photos Brian Larsen

Cardboard boxes, rulers, scissors, tape, a box fan and some filters and Wala! Once everything was put together, there it was, a Do It Yourself (DYI) air cleaner. MacGyver would be proud of the Cook County Story Scouts. Using his sharp mind and vaunted Swiss Army knife, the 1980’s TV detective could figure out how to make practically anything from the few resources he had on hand so he could get out of a tough jam. If anybody liked science, it was MacGyver, and of course, the Story Scouts are much the same.

So, safe to say the Story Scouts have been busy, only without the drama MacGyver faced.

Two first-graders, Sabrina Duscek and Leah Blaisdell, were at the YMCA on December 28 making DIY air cleaning filter boxes. These air filters will help minimize the airborne spread of the highly transmissible Omnicron virus.

When asked how the filters work, Leah explained, “The viruses get sucked into the trap and get stuck in the paper (filters) and die.” She emphasized the word die. Then she and Sabrina made the sounds of what a dying COVID-19 virus sounds like to them. The wailing, exuberant hand motions and head flailing’s were dramatic. Omnicron doesn’t stand a chance around these young ladies.

No high-tech gear is needed to make an air filter, Anne Brataas does just fine with a pair of scissors and cardboard.

No high-tech gear is needed to make an air filter, Anne Brataas does just fine with a pair of scissors and cardboard.

Once completed, the air filters will be donated to a school or groups such as the HUB (senior center) “to help minimize the risk of the airborne spread of highly transmissible Omicron virus. If readers need one, have them contact me,” said Story Scouts Director Anne Brataas.

These low-cost air filters are being built around the world by kids and families as a DIY movement backed by leading air quality chemists and engineers.

But components needed to make these filters are becoming scarce noted Brataas. “Stephen at Buck’s says that he has sold out of box fans out of season, by people also looking for MERV13 filters— the basic components of this DIY air cleaner,” Brataas added that she has ordered more box fans more from Bucks.

Using splendid color compositions, Sabrina and Leah taped the air filter together.

Using splendid color compositions, Sabrina and Leah taped the air filter together.

The DIY air cleaning filter boxes tie in with the latest book by Story Scouts.

“We have been corresponding on Twitter for the last year with air quality scientists and engineers on this topic, and included some of their advice in our book, ‘“Safe & Happy: A Children’s Field Guide to thriving in a Pandemic,”’ created with sponsorship from Cook County Public Health and encouragement of Grace Grinager,” Brataas said.

Story Scouts will provide free copies of the book all week at the YMCA — but welcome a free-will donation in any amount. “Our goal is to help kids safely stay in schools, create together, stay off screens and publish books!” says Brataas. MacGyver would be proud.

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