Use this activity to combine two of your pre-teen's interests — style and technology! Making a unique cyber bracelet doesn't just appeal to her fashion sense, it gets her inside a defunct computer. As she works, she'll learn which parts pose a hazard to the environment and how to handle them safely.
What You Do:
- Before beginning, make sure you review e-waste safety with your child. Understanding which parts are toxic and the importance of using safety equipment are the lessons hidden in this fun project. Batteries may contain lithium, chromium and BFRs (brominated flame retardant). Plastic housing may contain phthalates; solder may contain lead; and anything inside may have BFR coating. For more safety information, have her do research on the internet or pick up a pamphlet at an e-waste facility. Using rubber gloves and washing the chips will protect her fingers from exposure as she works.
- Make sure she has her safety glasses and rubber gloves on before she begins. When she's ready, have her expose the laptop "guts" by unscrewing the bottom plate or by inserting the screwdriver into a side seam and prying it open.
- Have her use the screwdriver and pliers to remove the green circuit boards. The edges are sharp, so make sure she handles them carefully. Reserve a few boards and bag what's left of the laptop for disposal.
- Show her how to lock vise grips onto a narrow circuit board section, then use pliers to bend and break off the chip. Break it into smaller chips the same way.
- Have her wash five or six pieces in warm, soapy water and dry. Bag the remains for disposal.
- Have her wipe the work surface with a damp cloth. Once everything is bagged and cleaned off, she can get rid of the safety goggles and gloves.
- Have her coil the mouse or keyboard cable around the jar and put tape across the coils in four places to hold it together.
- Then, she can slide the coils off the jar. This is the start of her bracelet! Have her tape inside the coils in the same places to make sure the coils don't slide around while she's doing her threading.
- Now it's time to stitch the bracelet together. Try the broom stitch yourself first so you can show her how if she needs help. First, wrap the thread crosswise around all the coils twice, then tie it loosely on the inside.
- Next, squeeze the thread between the top two cables and loop it over the crosswise thread, bringing it back down through the cables again on the other side. Come back up between the next two cables, then back down, and so on. When she's gone through all the cables, have her tie a double knot inside to secure. Make five broom-stitch rows.
- Now, she's ready to decorate! She can remove the tape and sew interesting chips to the broom stitch-rows. Make sure she ties off her sewing on the inside to keep her bracelet looking polished.
When she's done decorating her bracelet, she's ready to show it off. She's sure to be the only person in town with a bracelet she made from a real computer!