Greece students in grades 1-12 each have their own school-provided electronic device, most often a small laptop computer called a Chromebook. With about 10,000 devices in service, repairs are unavoidable.
Three days a week, about a dozen Athena students of all ability levels voluntarily use their advisement to take part in the Greece Gadgets program. Students are divided into teams focused on evaluating and repairing damaged Chromebooks. Technology teacher Chris Mros supervises their work and jumps in to help when needed.
“It’s about problem-solving,” said integrated technology teacher Mike Titus, who supports the program. “The kids evaluate the damage, figure out if they can repair it and do the repairs in as little as a day.”
The students are able to repair about 20 machines a week. Before Greece Gadgets, all damaged Chromebooks were sent to BOCES for repair — a process that sometimes takes a month or longer. BOCES still completes extensive repairs and repairs that are under warranty, but at Athena, most fixes are done in-house through Greece Gadgets.
Students in the program feel they are gaining valuable experience, whether they plan to pursue a career in the tech industry or not.
“This is not about fixing Chromebooks,” Titus said. “This is about creating opportunities for kids to get hands-on experience.”
Currently, Greece Gadgets is unique to Athena. The district hopes to expand the program to all Greece secondary schools in the future.
Interest is growing at Athena, where next year Greece Gadgets will be part of the intro to computer science course. Mros already has 28 students signed up. Those students also will run a help desk inside the library during lunch periods next year.
While repairing a cracked screen, junior Brennan Nuciolo said he’s already recommended Greece Gadgets to friends. Sophomore Sarah Malanowski said participants don’t have to be a “techie” to get something out of the program.
“Technology is going to be part of the future,” she said. “The more you know about it, the better off you are.”