Challenge: Make A Better Face Mask

Challenge: Make A Better Face Mask

Grade Level



15 min - 1 hr


Engineering and Tech

a blue paint circle badge with words in white that say "best of 2020"Masks in general can make you look totally awesome, whether you wear them on Halloween or to a superhero party. Lately, we’ve been seeing a different type of mask come into vogue: Fabric face masks. While cloth masks worn over the nose and mouth will not protect the wearer from catching an illness like coronavirus, they may keep the wearer from spreading a virus to others. All together, masks are pretty cool, huh?

Your challenge is to make a face mask that’s comfortable and looks cool.

Your face mask should:

  • – Cover the nose and mouth of the wearer with at least two layers of washable fabric*
  • – Stay in place without being held or adjusted by hand.
  • – Be comfortable
  • – Look pretty cool
  • *If you want to make a mask that is just for fun and not for reducing the spread of disease, you can make a mask out of any material you have available.

Submit Your Mask Design Here

Did you make a totally awesome mask? Use the link above to submit a photo, video, or story about your mask design to be included in our Gallery of Excellence and receive a Certificate of Awesome in the mail!

Face Mask Material Ideas:

There are two options for completing this challenge: 

Option A: Coronavirus Mask Materials
If you want to follow CDC guidelines for homemade masks, then you’ll need

  • – Old T-Shirts, towels, cloth napkins, or any tightly-knit cotton fabric*
  • – Rubber bands, hair ties, elastic bands, shoe laces, strips of fabric, wire, string, yarn
  • Optional: Scissors, needle and thread, sewing machine, glue, tape, scissors
  • *If you’re making a mask to slow the spread of disease, you shouldn’t be able to see through the fabric you choose. The less light can be seen through fabric, the more protection it provides

Option B: Recreational Mask Materials
If you want to make a cool mask that is fun to wear, but doesn’t slow the spread of viruses, then you’ll need:

  • – Paper, cardboard, newspaper, or any other material you have lying around! 
  • – Rubber bands, hair ties, elastic bands, shoe laces, strips of fabric, wire, string
  • – Optional: Scissors, needle and thread, sewing machine, glue, tape, scissors

Feeling Stuck? Try This First:

All you need is a fabric square, two rubber bands, and a U.S. Surgeon General

Now Challenge Yourself:

  • – Make it so the mask covers, but doesn’t touch, the wearer’s lips.
  • – Add 2D or 3D pattern to the outside of your mask.
  • – Make the size of your mask adjustable, or modify your design for different wearer sizes.
  • – Add a wire or other bendable material so that your mask closes the space between the wearer’s cheeks and nose. 
  • – Integrate a face shield, goggles, glasses, or other full-face embellishments.

More Face Mask Resources And Guides:

Science Friday co-created this resource as contributing members of CoBuild19, a collective of educators, organizations, and researchers working to help youth and their caregivers spend quality time together building and creating. The work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and Infosys Foundation. Learn about the initiative and find more activities at

Cover image credit: Shutterstock

Meet the Writer

About Ariel Zych

Ariel Zych is Science Friday’s director of audience. She is a former teacher and scientist who spends her free time making food, watching arthropods, and being outside.