Taking Apart a Computer Monitor

A few years ago Gleek’s school class sent notes home advertising a “Take Apart” day. They wanted old appliances or technology which was broken so that the kids could take things apart and see how these familiar objects looked inside. We happened to have a broken laptop to send with Gleek, which thrilled her. She had the coolest take apart item in the class. Since that day, Gleek often requests broken things so that she can take them apart. I figure there is no difference between recycling the thing whole or in pieces, so when I have something I let her.

On Sunday Gleek and Patch took screwdrivers to my broken flat screen monitor. It was fascinating to see all the layers that go into making a monitor run. The kids loved unplugging the circuit boards and pulling loose the screws. We were fascinated to discover that the monitor screen had five layers. There were three thin sheets of various refractive qualities, one liquid crystal board which had electronic inputs, then a thick polycarbonate sheet which also refracted light in interesting ways. We examined the tiny florescent light bars before recycling them as possibly toxic when broken. Bits of metal and plastic went into the bin as well. I must admit I was as fascinated by the process as the kids were. I have a better idea of what makes monitors work. We kept the circuit boards and the interesting refractive sheets. I’ve got my eyes open to figure out what broken thing we can take apart next.