Meet Jeremy Liew, one of the 10 outstanding kids selected to be a TFK Kid Reporter this school year. Jeremy is 12 years old and lives in Riverside, Connecticut. He enjoys making movies and performing magic tricks.
Finalists in the TFK Kid Reporter contest were judged on a number of factors. One of their assignments was to write an article about a hometown hero. Jeremy’s story is about a teacher and entrepreneur who helps his community. You can read it below.
Everyone knows Superman. But do you know educator and entrepreneur Travis Sluss? He teaches students how to code by day and makes personal protection equipment (PPE) by night.
Sluss is known as Superman around Westchester County, New York. In 2010, he created MacInspires, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program. It offers kids hands-on technology learning. This year, Sluss donated MacInspires resources to make face shields and masks for hospitals.
Sluss made MacInspires free when COVID-19 first hit his community. “These 3D printers . . . can be used to make face shields,” he says. “We also have sewing machines for cotton masks.” Travis reached out to his online network to request material donations. He donated the extra $2,250 to food banks.
In addition to donating more than 416 shield frames, 981 shield fronts, 1,000 face masks, 174 ear guards, and 33 door hooks, Sluss 3D printed a newly invented aerosol box. He explains the aerosol box is “a plexiglass box [for the infected] patient’s head while they are laying down in the hospital.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 16% of high school seniors are interested in STEAM. Travis makes subjects such as robotics, SpaceX, and woodshop available to everyone. “As a youth, it was a struggle to find places and opportunities to further these passions and that was a major motivating factor in driving me to open and create MacInspires,” says Sluss. He uses technology to mentor lifelong learners in his community and teaches more than 400 students and teachers at schools and libraries. “What’s neat is you see them mature over the course of time they’re here,” says Sluss.
Sluss used COVID-19 as a teaching moment for his students. One of his students, seventh grader Michael Joseph, said learning 3D printing taught him “how to make things to help others.”
MacInspires director of Operations Margaret Mullen says, “Travis is a hero because he works with students to enhance their innate intellectual abilities which often aids them in choosing futures in computer science, engineering, and beyond.”
In the time of COVID-19, it’s technological innovators and community leaders like Travis Sluss who are the 21st-century local heroes. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s SuperTravis!