Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our 9 year old fixed the red ring of death a wonderful start this school year.

We have a beach vacation next month so we started school very early this year. We plan to do some school on vacation but I don't want to take the large Math, English, and History books with us. My plan is to do a lot of earth science, writing, art and some history on vacation (but the kind of history lessons that don't require all the large heavy books) and I plan for him to do daily math drills (math fact practice but without the large math book).

Our school year so far is going WONDERFUL!!! Everyone is excited and having fun. We have done some small projects and even started taking field trips. I hope the year continues like this. Demi is doing a lot more "school stuff" and even Zee joins in for a lot of it. I put my antique school desk in Travis's bedroom so he can close the door and do his Math, English, Writing, and Reading in quiet. This is working out great (I hope it continues this way). I give the lessons to him at the dinning room table, kitchen table, or on the sofa (what ever place the younger children are not at) then he takes the work to his tiny desk. Demi keeps busy playing games like starfall or writing worksheets. I put a tiny TV and DVD player in the playroom to keep Zee busy long enough for me to give a math lesson. I hope to get enough fun learning activities made up to keep her busy and happy without the TV in the next couple months.

The first school project we are calling it a science project. Our science this year is Earth Science and this project is not earth science but we are calling it school anyway (unschooling fun). Rob's Xbox broke back in April (I think it was April). Rob really wanted a PS3 so he ended up getting one a few weeks later (after a few weeks of playing our Wii and feeling like a tiny tot). The Xbox was put on the porch to take away to dispose of. Rob forgot it was on the porch. In July I got frustrated with this thing on the porch but I felt a bit sick about tossing it. I brought it inside and hooked it up and it worked!!! OK it only worked for a few days but it did work. The children had fun playing it on rainy afternoons. They cried when it broke again. I looked up how to fix the red ring of death and found one that was a FREE so I thought it was a great place to start. I did do a google search to find the screw size converted from metric. I think I typed in screw size for X clamp fix 360 (or something like that). It lead me to a forum that had that answer. Rob ran Travis down to the city to pick up the screws, washers, and thermal compound and such (I think parts cost about $10). Rob did NOT think that his wife and 9 year old son could fix a broken xbox so he picked Travis up a new PS3 game for him to play (something for Travis to play with if the Xbox didn't get fixed). I guess that lets you know how certain Rob was of us not being able to fix the machine.

At first Travis was too afraid to take apart the Xbox. I explained to him that the machine was broke so we couldn't do any damage. After all if it is already broke and you don't fix it isn't it still just broke? He understood that but was still to afraid to pop off the cover. He looked very worried as I used a tiny screwdriver to pop loose the tabs (it made a plastic snapping-breaking noise when I did this it wasn't breaking but the noise made him think I was). After I removed the cover and he saw a metal cover and screws his fears vanished, he got excited and asked to help. At that point it looks more like an erector set than an Xbox and I think all boys are familiar and excited over erector sets. He was able to take apart most of the xbox , fix it, and put it back together with very little help from me. We did search you tube for videos whenever we didn't understand the directions. Travis did 90% of the work. I helped whenever things got tricky. I did pop open the outer shell, remove the on off button, and removed the motherboard from the case. He was afraid of the motherboard at first. After it was out he was OK with fixing it and putting it back together. I think when he first he first saw the motherboard he was afraid that he would break it because it had so many pieces sticking out. Every time he got afraid I reminded him that the xbox was already broke and you can't break something that is already broken.... well maybe you can but it is still just broke. RIGHT? At the end of the night he had a working XBOX!!!! I wish I would have got pictures and video of Travis AND Rob's faces when we plugged it in and turned it on!!! Rob was SHOCKED!!! The project is one that was not hard at all. Using the wonderful internet it was easy to find free videos and directions (some directions fix it a bit different but it works the same). I think it is something Travis could do again with no help at all from me. He gained confidence, knowledge, and became better at following directions and doing research (he learned how to find many instructions on the computer with no help from me).

In the end what I would like to say to anyone who experiences the red ring of death is you don't have to know how to fix computers, buy an expensive manual, or junk your broken XBOX. If a 9 year old can do it I think any adult can do it (as long as you are not the kind of person who gets frustrated and throws things). Anyone who can read or watch videos can fix this game machine!

Rob gave Travis the Xbox. He said that he was going to junk it and Travis took the time to fix it so it is all his. It is now in Travis's room (the girls have the old PS2). The children need permission before using the game machines and the PS2 was Travis' before he got the xbox so he understands the rules. Travis is VERY proud of his new/old game machine! We are excited for him and have plans to buy some more electronic building kind of kits. We want to give Travis some more unschooling do what interest you type of science this year because Rob and I believe that following a child's interest is the easiest, fastest, and most fun way to learn (but yes even after saying that I must admit we are still using mostly the classical method of schooling). We will also be doing lots of earth science this year.

I didn't take pictures of Travis fixing the xbox from the start but once Rob asked me if I was getting pictures I did go grab the camera. Here are some of the pictures I took.

He fixed it several weeks ago (I think it has been about a month). The Xbox is still working like new! I might think about having Travis try to fix a computer next time one of ours breaks. We have 4 computers in the house (we hardly ever use any of them) but if one breaks I think I will encourage him to take it apart and research ways to fix it.

Travis finished his school up very early today (he started very early) he ended up with 30 minutes of free time before time to hit the golf course (PE class with Daddy and Uncle Mike). He used his free time to play some Xbox. Demi snuck in his room to play with his basketball toy (she loves playing with/getting into his stuff).
Sorry about the TV stand in the picture below. On my list of things to do is to build or buy a stand but I haven't got around to that yet. The paper on the floor next to the TV is an old world (or state) map he uses them to set up wars with army men or battles with Lego men. It should be in his closet with the rest of his toys (a required chore of his) but sometimes he gets of track (notice the unmade bed he will not be getting his allowance this week).

He was playing last year's football game (I think we have lots of football/sports games for the game machines). Rob has the new college football for the PS3 but I think Travis is just as happy playing the old games in his room as Rob is playing the new one in the living room.

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