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Restart @school session 4: Researching and getting organised for repair

This was the session we were most worried about, as it was the last session before we get the satisfaction of fixing together. Having spoken to Jeannie, leading Restart-inspired activities in Fieldston School in New York, we were encouraged to stress organisation, preparation and mindful disassembly with students at Archer Academy.

We opened the day with this classic xkcd comic and quickly reminded students how a messy disassembly can make for a very complicated reassembly – showing them the gadgets they took apart in session 3. Most admitted they would struggle to get the gadgets back together again.

We talked about how to find information about a device online, so we would be educated about the potential faults. Every student had experience using Youtube for information about how to fix something. One student had successfully consulted a technical forum for his games console.

Only five minutes in, in order to keep this session engaging and motivating for students, repair coach Faraz did a demo disassembly of an Xbox 360 controller guided by iFixit.

Then we created a similar exercise out of the Playstation controllers, with iFixit print-outs (it turns out getting students on WiFi is really tough). Students were encouraged to fault-find, and then take them apart, all the while trying to detect the fault, then reassemble them. It felt like a veritable Restart Dojo. Wax on, wax off. Disassemble, reassemble.

The most amazing part of this session came when we discovered why two of the students had such a tough time taking apart their controllers (procured from eBay) – they were elaborate fakes. The screws used were cheap and quite difficult to remove, and the batteries and boards inside were entirely different. This was the “anti” Easter Egg.

We were positively surprised with the timings – we were in fact able to finish this lesson in an hour’s time. We think game controllers are widely available and appropriate learning opportunity.

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