How Many Family Members Does It Take to Fix a School Chromebook?
My 7th grader casually informed me the other day that he was missing a couple screws on the bottom of his school Chromebook, and the casing was beginning to separate. (Both holes were in the same corner.)
When I took a look, I realized the problem was more than just a little separation. The entire body and screen misaligned when I tried to flip it open, and the guts of the laptop almost spilled out from the hideous opening like a fresh gunshot wound. I couldn’t even close the screen for fear that I would snap off the hinges.
My son had been dealing with this?!
No Amazon to the Rescue
So I immediately looked up “Chromebook replacement screws” online. There had a be a quick fix for this. But in fact, there wasn’t.
I found that screws dropping out of Chromebooks was a well-documented problem, but there was no one-stop solution to buy a replacement screw for 20 cents. Sure, I could buy hundreds of different-sized laptop screws on Amazon and hope that one of them would work. But that looked like a painful needle in a haystack scenario.
Time to Get Creative
I turned my head and looked at the calendar: Two weeks to go until the end of the school year. Hmmm…Then it hit me.
I just had to keep that computer together for another few days!
Duct tape? No, that’s a silly idea (though I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first to attempt it).
Did I have another old laptop lying around that I could grab a screw from?
Nope… not one that would fit. (I tried.)
Wait! Maybe I could move out one of the other screws on the back of the Chromebook to fill in one of the corner holes. And then I would keep my fingers crossed that the band-aid maneuver would be a sufficient fix to reseal the body.
Does the Chromebook Survive?
So right before breakfast, my son and I cleared off the dining room table and began the surgery. I let him play the role of Dr. Strange. (This would take a delicate touch and a good dose of magic.)
And guess what? It worked!
The body held shut, and the screen opened up and closed like nothing was ever wrong (though the computer was still missing 2 screws).
For good measure, my son then tightened up a few of the other screws that were loose and also about to fall out. (Whoa!)
Yes, the operation was a success. My boy treated it like an easy homework assignment, and I was slightly stunned that we had seemingly just opened up a Lester father-and-son computer repair business.
A Good Lesson
Sure, he had just moved one screw to a different location on the laptop’s back. You might think this to be an obvious fix. And in hindsight, it was.
But in this computer-centric world we all live in with AI on the cusp of changing everything, just the idea that we can still fix a computer at home with a screwdriver feels refreshingly analog.
And it’s an important reminder of who still runs this planet… for now.