Display it! Don't spray it! New Video Demonstrates Mask Effectiveness

Sep 15, 2020

Can wearing a mask REALLY help slow the spread of COVID-19? In a new video from Michigan State University, science educator Dr. Rob Stephenson demonstrates how masks can be effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.  

The video project was a collaboration between WKAR Public Media and the College of Engineering at Michigan State University.

“It is important for the public to understand the personal protection provided by wearing face masks,” said Dr. James Klausner, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Entitled “Display it, don’t spray it,” the video features Dr. Rob Stephenson, science educator and Emmy-award winning host of WKAR’s Curious Crew, along with high-resolution, slow-motion video captured by mechanical engineering researchers using a high-speed camera. Viewers get to see in detail how respiratory droplets disperse and travel through the air when speaking, singing, and coughing -- with and without a mask.

The demonstrations illustrate that wearing a mask can indeed be effective at limiting the spread of droplets that can carry the coronavirus. 

“There’s a lot of innovative and groundbreaking research being done at MSU – research that has a real benefit to the public,” said Carol Yancho, WKAR senior producer. “When working with colleges here on campus, we often have to take very complicated research and make it as easy to understand as possible in just a few minutes. What I enjoy is getting to work with professors and researchers to come up with creative ways to do that visually.”

“WKAR is a superb media organization,” said Klausner, “and the collaboration was gratifying because [they] provided many creative ideas on how to best represent the research work to the public.”

The video is airing on WKAR television now between programs throughout the day and in primetime. It is also available on-demand in the free PBS Video app and online at video.wkar.org.