Mayville 8th-graders used 3D printer to create insulin pump covers for Germantown 3rd-grader

MAYVILLE -- We've heard a lot about people using 3D printers for good amid the coronavirus pandemic -- from masks, to face shields. A group of boys in Mayville put them to use well before the arrival of COVID-19 to help a little girl in need.

"It was a lot of trial and error," said Trey Janzer, eighth-grader. "A lot of trial and error."

"Some of them were too loose," said Landen Wild, eighth-grader. "Some of them were too tight, and would snap."

Inside Mrs. Bushke's classroom at St. John's Lutheran School in Mayville, the four eighth-graders are used to taking on challenges.

Sarah Paul

"They've done a lot of different projects, from competitions of making ice scrapers, making shovels," said Tammy Bushke.

One project was a little different, but one they couldn't say no to, even if they were a little unsure how to tackle it. Addison Paul, 9, a Germantown third-grader, became their inspiration.

"Here we are, almost seven years to the day, living strong with Type 1 diabetes," said Sarah Paul, Addison's mother.

At just 2 1/2 years old, Addison's life changed forever.

"It was a shock to the system," said Sarah Paul.

Addison Paul

The spunky little girl went from getting insulin shots, to wearing a pump.

"It's made a gigantic difference in her life," said Sarah Paul.

Addison has never wanted to hide her diabetes, always embracing it. She and her mom painted each pod, collecting their work.

"That was the first pod I ever painted," said Addison Paul. "I wore the cow for State Fair."

Though the process has been fun, it's time consuming -- having to change the pump every three days. Sarah Paul said she knew there had to be an alternative, and soon spotted a post on Facebook.

"I saw these insulin pump covers this woman received from a school," said Sarah Paul.

Addison Paul

The small, removable plastic covers decorate the insulin pod. Sarah Paul made her own Facebook post, asking if anyone had a 3D printer that could help her little girl. A parent in Mayville saw the post, and Mrs. Bushke and her team of eighth-graders went to work.

"I immediately said, 'I think we can do this,'" said Bushke.

"This was many hours of trying to resize it and all of that -- just trying to get everything to fit," said Wild.

Using a 3D printer, they created unique designs to help Addison continue to feel special.

"We did the Girl Scouts because she's in Girl Scouts," said Alexander Roder, eighth-grader.

The work took a couple of weeks, and finally, 21 covers, ranging from a donut to a lady bug, were presented to Addison. Her favorite -- a pink unicorn.

"I'm happy that someone and some people did this for me," said Addison.

Addison Paul

The project taught the boys an important lesson: Sometimes the biggest challenges have the greatest rewards.

"She means the world to me," said Sarah Paul. "The fact that these people stepped up and they did something for somebody else, it warms my heart."

With schools closed as a result of the coronavirus, Addison is still enjoying wearing her insulin covers while e-learning at home. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bushke and one of the boys have pivoted to make face masks for those on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.