Every Greece student in grades 1-12 now has 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, but who performs the repairs may surprise you.
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 helps to oversee 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, 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 thanks to Greece Gadgets.
Students in the program feel they’re gaining valuable experience, whether they plan to pursue a career in the tech industry or not.
“School for me is about learning whatever I can,” junior Brennan Nuciolo said while replacing a cracked screen. “This class is amazing.”
Sophomore Sarah Malanowski agrees. She has always been interested in computer programming, but Greece Gadgets has taught her new skills. Students are ready to get their hands dirty and lead their own learning.
“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. Titus said the district is hoping to expand the program to all Greece secondary schools in the future.
Interest is also 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 will also be running a help desk inside the library during lunch periods.