Arcadia High School Sophomore Advances in Competition

Weber setting up his file folder for his animation videos. – Photo by Nancy Lin

By May S. Ruiz

Fifteen-year-old Weber Lin was an Arcadia High School freshman when schools closed their campus in March and resorted to virtual learning. One day he and his parents read a CNN online article about a group of people in Montana who were making 3D-printed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help with disposable mask shortages in local hospitals. They shared their ‘Montana Mask’ design with the public, which started a worldwide grass-roots effort to alleviate  PPE shortages everywhere. And Weber saw an opportunity to join the cause.   

Using a 3D printer he had won at a previous competition, Weber printed reusable ‘Montana Masks’ for a local urgent care clinic as his Eagle Scout project. Arcadia Police Chief Robert Guthrie also asked for an order of the masks for his police force. The venture was such a success that it grew into a much larger endeavor. He started a GoFundMe campaign raising over $3K, acquired six more printers, and created over 3,000 pieces of PPE (masks, face, shields, and ear savers) which he distributed to frontline workers from Hawaii to the East Coast and even to South America. 

Weber assembling some 3D printers. – Photo by Nancy Lin

Weber later learned that the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, an annual global competition for students to inspire creative thinking about science, added a COVID category this year. Having already worked on providing masks in March and April, he thought entering the competition’s COVID category was a natural extension of his efforts to help stem the spread of COVID-19. He spent over 150 hours producing a public service announcement (PSA) to help people, even kids, to better understand the coronavirus. 

The idea was to create an entertaining and educational PSA with an unusual angle – from the point of view of the virus. Weber has always enjoyed making videos for school projects, even adding a bit of fun with green screens and stop-motion clay animation. For the Breakthrough Junior Challenge video, though, he really pulled out all the stops. He converted the family dining room – which he had previously used as a makeshift 3D printing PPE factory – into a production studio. His PSA includes a file folder that moves by itself and body parts that magically fall apart and come together. But what truly makes this amazing is that he’s completely self-taught, never having taken any formal class in film-making or video editing.

That project advanced Weber into the top 30 semifinalist stage and he is now in the Popular Vote phase. If he wins either the overall popular vote or the COVID category popular vote, it would shortcut him into the final round of judging for a chance to win a $250K scholarship, a new $100K science lab for his high school, and a $50K prize for his favorite STEM teacher.

With your help, Weber can win the popular vote and Arcadia High School can get a science lab. Please enter your vote before September 20. Use this link to his video and instructions on how to vote.           

Click on the video link to be taken to the official voting site:

“Like/Love” it for ONE VOTE

Share the video with friends for a SECOND VOTE (making sure they only vote by going THROUGH the link too; just “liking” your shared post will not count for votes)

IMPORTANT: ONLY LIKES/SHARES ON THE OFFICIAL BREAKTHROUGH PAGE COUNT!There is a max of 2 votes (1 like/1 share) per FB account owner.

Whether he prevails in the competition or doesn’t, Weber is already a winner in the eyes of all the frontline workers whose health and lives he helped save.         


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