Most Shared

An epic solution for saving our quickly disappearing school music programs.

3D printers and violins have more in common than you might think.

Imagine a high school bus stop around 7:30 a.m.

You’d see maybe eight teenagers: three holding sports duffle bags; one reading a library book; another holding a large art portfolio. The last three might be holding instrument cases shaped like guitars, violins, and trombones.

But what if those instruments disappeared? Unfortunately, that's the reality for many K-12 students across the country.


These days, most American K-12 schools are focusing heavily on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, but performing arts programs are getting left behind. When extracurricular budgets are tight, music programs are often the first to go.

As it turns out, STEM programs could actually save music programs.

That's Kaitlyn Hova's great idea.

Kaitlyn Hova. All photos provided by the Hovas, used with permission.

At 13 years old, Kaitlyn became a professional violinist and toured all over the country. To book more gigs, she created a website and started playing around with code, too. But it wasn’t until a music theory course at Berklee College of Music in Boston that Kaitlyn discovered that she had synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that connects one sensory with another.

Synesthesia inspired Kaitlyn to change academic paths, switching from music in Boston to neuroscience classes at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in her hometown. After graduating, she also attended Omaha Code School with her husband, Matt Hova, and created the synesthesia network called a “Facebook for people with Synesthesia” to gather data for her epidemiological studies.

Two years ago, Kaitlyn and Matt began printing shapes and stationery and eventually full instruments on a 3D printer.

They stumbled past an Instagram post of David Perry's F-F-Fiddle, a full-sized violin printed with a 3D printer, which inspired the tech-savvy couple to design and 3D-print a violin of their very own. Over the next year and a half, after creating over 60 failed models, the Hovas experimented their way to a 3D-printed, fairly cheap violin that they called the Hovalin 2.0.

The Hovas with their Hovalins.

The best part? Kaitlyn and Matt want to use their invention to help save music programs.

Their idea is that kids in STEM programs could 3D-print instruments in class, thereby saving music programs and lowering each school's costs (the instruments would be free!). Right now, they're working with school districts to raise enough money to put 3D printers in schools all over the U.S., hoping to kickstart the idea into action.

"After making the [Hovalin], we realized it could be really wonderful thing to try to help out with music programs," Kaitlyn explains. "Maybe they have a good STEM program going on, but their music program is losing funding."

"It's so empowering for kids to see they can make something out of software," Kaitlyn said. "I think it makes it more accessible."

The Hovas are not the first and probably won't be the last to create a 3D-printed violin. But they are the first to use their invention for good in this particular way.

The best part is that this solution is relatively simple but full of creativity and possibility. Plus, a recent study shows that kids benefit from music training as much as from basic classes, like mathematics.

As a former music student from a school with an at-risk music program, the Hovas' awesome intentions struck a chord with me. We need more simple, effective solutions like these for our kids. Here’s to hoping the program takes off!

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

Keep Reading Show less