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2-minute video summary:

The EM Pod was designed using Tinkercad (a free online computer assisted design program) and printed on a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer.

3D Printing makes the possible real . . . even if you're a kid!

Alexis has been creating with Tinkercad and her MakerBot 3D printer ever since she was 12 years old. When she gives talks about Inventing 101 (at the Smithsonian, The White House, National Maker Faire, etc), she stresses the importance of getting simple CAD software and a 3D printer into the hands of youth, and then watch them make the possible real.

Emergency Mask Pod

Alexis got the idea for the Emergency Mask Pod in the summer of 2013, after hearing that a mother had thrown her infant out of the second floor window of their smoke-filled apartment during a fire in the building.  The family was trapped in their apartment by the smoke.  

Alexis wondered whether there was a means for people waiting outside, such as neighbors and first responders (police officers, EMTs), to deliver smoke masks to people trapped in the second floors of burning buildings. Her research showed that there was no such delivery system, so Alexis set about to invent one.

First, she found a small, lightweight smoke mask, made by Xcaper Industries. The next step was to develop a way to launch or throw the mask up into an open second-story window. 

Alexis built several prototype projectile pods, which were tested by local firefighters.  Each prototype was thrown into a second story window more than 290 times by a total of 37 firefighters. The football-shaped pod, which Alexis printed on her MakerBot 3D printer, was the clear winner, with an accuracy rate of over 70 percent.

The firefighters testing the "Emergency Mask Pod," as Alexis calls it, told her that it is needed by firefighters arriving at the scene of a fire. The unit captain's job is to walk around the burning structure and determine whether there are any people still in the building. Fire department captains told Alexis that when they find people trapped inside, they wish they could give them some form of relief so they can breathe safely while firefighters try to reach them. A smoke delivery system could be used to provide that relief.   

The Emergency Mask Pod requires no special equipment, training, or permits; people at the scene of a fire could help fire victims trapped inside smoky second floor rooms without hesitation.  EMTs, police officers, and firefighters could keep the mask and EM Pod in their vehicles and apartment/townhouse complexes could store them in easily-accessible places, like community centers/rooms.

The mask could easily be retrieved by the recipient and put on, giving them precious time for firefighters to rescue them.  This simple, easy, compact, and feasible system could be deployed to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of EMS centers, fire stations and police departments, as well as apartment/townhouse communities, potentially saving hundreds or thousands of lives. 

The Emergency Mask Pod won an all-expense-paid patent application through the ePals-Smithsonian Invent It Challenge in 2014.

Xcaper Smoke Mask


The Xcaper Emergency Mask protects people for up to 15 minutes against the carbon dioxide, toxins, and particulate in smoke.


Alexis chose this mask because it is small, lightweight, and effective.  


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