Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learning through reuse

Hitachi J100 adjustable frequency drive chassis.Image via Wikipedia

Candy, the Middle School lab tech, recently offered the Middle School iTeam a broken eBook reader as a learning tool. Some members might want to find out what makes devices tick. This could generate some interest in what Sylvia Martinez calls Sustained Tinkering Time.

But middle school students are unlikely to be able to bring a single-purpose device back to life. An article at Wired's How-to Wiki shows how to take this a step further:

The consumer electronics and personal computer markets are largely built on the concept of planned obsolescence. Today's must-have is tomorrow's has-been. That works out well for manufacturers, but it has some very serious environmental and health consequences. Outdated gadgets containing arsenic, bromine, cadmium, hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), lead, mercury and other nasty chemicals often end up in landfills, leaching their dangerous toxins into your soil and water supply.

Obviously, the responsible thing to would be to recycle your electronics. But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Plug in to eCycling program, only 15 to 20 percent of our PCs, TVs, cell phones and other electronic devices are being recycled (those figures are from 2005, which is most recent data available).

So how to stop contributing to the electronic landfill?
This page is a wiki. Got extra advice? Log in and add it. ...

Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker has seven tips for giving an old laptop new life.
  • Low-power, no monitor spare
  • Home server
  • Digital photo frame
  • Fly again with Linux
  • Stand-alone monitor
  • Salvage an external backup drive
  • Extend wireless coverage
As John Seeley Brown suggests in his advocacy of Tinkering described my post Tech Studios- places for iTeam work, through the engaged reuse, you find out whether your ideas work.

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