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12-year-old from Illinois creates emergency ventilators using Lego

Anthony Hartman thought of ways he could help those in need during the pandemic and decided to help find a solution to the shortage of ventilators.

12-year-old from Illinois creates emergency ventilators using Lego
Image Source: YouTube/Anthony The Inventor

When the COVID-19 virus started spreading through America last year, the first concern the shortage of medical equipment. As cases continued to spike, it continued to wreak havoc on the healthcare system. As ventilator manufacturers scrambled to put together the complicated machinery, a young boy of 12 decided to build one as well. Even as the top institutes were putting in their minds to make emergency ventilators, Anthony Hartman from Winnetka, Illinois did his part to help out as well. But his emergency ventilator came with a unique twist, as it was made of legos. But it does its job.



During the pandemic and particularly amid online school, children allowed their imagination to run wild. They took on their hobbies with even more enthusiasm, as did Hartman. He had been building things as long as he could remember and the time was opportune for him to try his hand at a bigger challenge. With the free time he had during the lockdown, Hartman thought of ways he could help those in need during the pandemic. He decided he would use his flair for building things to help find a solution to the shortage of ventilators. 



“I saw a bunch of universities making respirator units that were cheaper and more affordable. I wanted to make my own version with a twist, which was the Lego piece,” the seventh-grade student told ABC 7. For this, he used materials he could find around his home including the toy building blocks. He was the chief engineer for his middle school's LEGO League Robotics team where he learned a lot of crucial skills which he said helped him in the new endeavor. He took several weeks to build the machine and the first prototype was complete in March 2020. He named it EVentilator2020 and used LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robotics bricks and motors to build it.



Last year, he even entered his creation into the Kids Think Tank contest. Unfortunately, his timely creation was not awarded first place but was given the due recognition it deserved. "The Kids Idea Tank is a way the kids can take their idea to the next level and practice all these entrepreneurship skills, like pitching, brainstorming, and collaborating with someone," said Lowey Sichol, founder of Kids Idea Tank. Much like the TV show Shark Tank, kids are expected to sell their idea to a panel of judges and stand to win between $500- $1000 for their ideas.



"He's always been creative, he's always been thinking outside the box," Hartman's mom, Yuki, stated. The minor setback at the Kids Idea Tank is not stopping the little guy, who hopes to submit his idea of the EVentilator2020 to LEGO Ideas to hopefully strike a partnership. He hopes that his creation can be put to use in actual hospitals by medical staff, especially in rural areas and other places in severe need of more ventilators. Medical professionals can do with all the help they can get especially with the demand for ventilators that have been in short supply during the pandemic.



Andreas Wieland, the chief executive of Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, one of the world’s largest makers of ventilators told The New York Times last year, “The reality is there is absolutely not enough. We see that in Italy, we saw that in China, we see it in France and other countries. We could sell I don’t know how many.” The full-fledged high-end ventilators were difficult to build in a short period of time. The University of Illinois, along with Belkin, put together a team comprising 40 engineers, doctors, medical professionals, designers, and manufacturing experts to create the Illinois RapidVent, which was a working prototype of an emergency ventilator for COVID-19 patients.


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