Even without classes, a group of students volunteered to produce almost 3,000 packages of hand-sanitizer.
March 29, 2020
/ Brasilia, Brazil
/ Lucas Rocha
Professor Paulo Mendes supervises student work. He warns that the experiment should not be done at home [Photo: Lucas Rocha]
Even with the suspension of classes, some high school students from Colégio Adventista de Maceió in Brazil continue to help their community and those in need. The students are not in the classroom, instead, they are volunteering to spend part of their day in the laboratory, producing hand sanitizer with 70% gel alcohol. The students are working under the supervision of teachers Paulo Mendes and Stephano Sousa, who are responsible for Biology and Chemistry classes, respectively.
The students will deliver least a 1,000 bottles to three elder-care homes in the region. Elderly people, over the age of 60, are within the age group who suffer most from the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). In addition, the product was made available to the school, students, teachers and staff.
Mendes says the idea was sparked in the classroom after the teachers talked about COVID-19 , which had not yet arrived in Brazil. Through discussion among the students, the idea came of producing 70% alcohol gel hand-sanitizer.
However, soon after they started the project, the school suspended. The students organized themselves and asked the coordinator to allow them access to the laboratory so they could continue producing the hand sanitizer. “The result is very rewarding. They saw that classroom content can be used in everyday life to help other people, ”says Mendes.
The schools laboratory was transformed into a small production line: some work making the gel, others put the label on the packaging and a third group is responsible for filling the bottles. The estimate is that around 3,000 packages will be produced, at least 1,000 of which will be donated to three different elder care homes. After participating in the first day production, Samara Ellen, a first year high-school student, made a point of returning to school. “I thought this initiative was very good, and fun too,” he said. “We were able to learn and ended up having fun.”
Mendes, however, warns that the experiment should not be reproduced at home. “Here in the laboratory they have the right equipment, the safety protocol and the guidance of professionals. This type of experiment should not be done at home, especially by people who rely on YouTube videos.”
With the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for 70% gel alcohol hand-sanitizer has increased dramatically. Some stores have run out of stock and there are others that, with the increase in demand, have raised prices. As in 2016, when the H1N1 outbreak increased demand for the hand-sanitizer, Mendes has mobilized the College to buy supplies for the schools production of the product.