Science Center Educators Stepped Up During Coronavirus Pandemic

Chris Irizarry, Dr. Oneka Marriott, Chris Ortiz and Chris Pait at FoundCare.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium stepped up to provide more than 1,000 3D-printed face shields to first responders when personal protective equipment (PPE) was needed most.

Educators delivered the equipment to frontline workers and other nonprofits throughout Palm Beach County and even as far as Orlando. Organizations such as the West Palm Beach fire and police departments, FoundCare, Boca Raton Regional Hospital and the Palm Beach Zoo were included in distribution.

Science Center educators typically spend their days teaching budding scientists to use more than a dozen 3D printers the organization keeps in its Stiles-Nicholson STEM Education Center. Chris Ortiz and Chris Pait worked with volunteers and used a web-based CAD (computer-aided design) program ordinarily used to help students learn the skills needed to manipulate 3-dimensional objects in a 2-dimensional workspace.

“We were grateful to use the time we were quarantined to help others in our community,” said Kate Arrizza, president and CEO of the Science Center. “Safety is our top priority, and we were happy to step up to fill this great need.”

The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation was a major funder of the 3D printing project.

“The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation enthusiastically supports the Science Center’s mission,” said David Nicholson, a trustee and supporter of the foundation. “We owe the improvements in our quality of life to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and the Science Center is delighted to help our neighbors in this time of need. The 3-D printing of face shields is just a small example of coupling modern technology with creativity to create solutions for today’s challenges. The greater the number of students who choose STEM as a career, the faster progress will be made to resolve these medical and other challenges.”

The mission of the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium is to “open every mind to science” and the indoor/outdoor venue features more than 100 hands-on educational exhibits, a 10,000 gallon fresh and salt water aquarium, digital planetarium, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center,” 18-hole conservation-themed mini golf course and quarter-mile outdoor science trail. The newest addition includes a $2.5 million permanent exhibit, “Journey Through the Human Brain” that features the most advanced neuroscience research and technology in the world. New safety guidelines like social distancing and mask wearing are enforced.

For more information on Science Center programming, call (561) 832-1988 or visit