Aerosol specialist shares which masks work best to protect kids as they head back to school

As schools start up for the fall across the country, the question of kids and masks looms large. In some states, masks are mandated for all public schools, regardless of vaccination status. In other states, mask mandates are banned. In still others, the decision is left up to local leaders, with perspectives on what is right and safe falling across the spectrum.

Such uncertainty and inconsistency have left parents reeling, especially with the highly contagious Delta variant surging, millions of kids too young to be vaccinated yet, and drastically differing opinions on whether kids should mask up in the classroom.

The evidence for universal masking preventing viral spread is quite deep and wide at this point, but concerned parents may be looking for more specific guidance. Which masks are best for kids? And where do I even start trying to figure that out?

Thankfully, there's a guy who has answers to those questions.

Aaron Collins is a mechanical engineer who wrote his Master's thesis on the science of aerosols—tiny particles in the air from things like smoke or viruses—and worked for years developing instruments to measure and describe them. During the peak of the pandemic, he built an aerosol lab in his bathroom to test which masks are most effective at preventing aerosol spread and has been meticulously recording the results of his tests ever since.

He has collected his data in a Google doc that anyone can access and shares his findings in YouTube videos. According to his FAQ, this is the goal of the project:

  • Identify both highly protective masks, and suppliers that have quality controls in place so that there is a high confidence that products sold meet these requirements.
  • Test and identify as many high quality protective masks as possible.
  • Help explain the complex discussion about masks, provide context to the different types and test standards
  • Provide a transparent data collection and data analysis so people can see what is happening, the limitations of my test.
  • Be completely independent from a mask supplier or source. Independent reviews is the most important thing, I want no bias!

In one of his most recent videos, Collins shared what kid masks he recommends if you're looking for high filtration masks. (High filtration masks protect the wearer in addition to protecting those around them.) Check it out:

Current Top Mask Picks & Kids Maskswww.youtube.com

You can read his FAQ here for more information about how he analyses the masks. Also, check out the Google spreadsheet with all of his data and links to where you can find these masks here.

As COVID cases increase and kids start congregating in classrooms, the question of protection is only going to grow more important. Getting ahead of the spread with effective masks is one way families can ease some of the concern as well as (hopefully) protect us all from worsening variants in the coming months.


1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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