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Long Island Children's Museum teaches kids to fix things

Sariel Melamed, 14, learns from Kevin Kenny how

Sariel Melamed, 14, learns from Kevin Kenny how to fix his yo-yo during the “Repair Stuff With Us” workshop at the Long Island Children's Museum on Thursday. (July 26, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Beth Whitehouse

Brothers Sariel and Etanell Melamed showed up at the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City on Thursday with a broken yo-yo, a dead laptop, a busted Game Boy and a damaged video camera.

“We brought the whole house with us,” mom Yvette joked.

The boys left batting .500 – the museum staff was able to fix half the items. For free.

Sariel, 14, and Etanell, 12, came from Brooklyn with their mom after they heard about the museum’s one-day “Repair Stuff With Us” workshop. The museum staff was testing out a prototype workshop that may become part of a new exhibit called “Broken? Fix-It!”

"Broken? Fix It!" is scheduled to be at the museum for seven months, from June 2013 to February 2014, and then travel to five other children’s museums across the country. The point of the exhibit will be to teach kids that you don’t have to throw away broken items. “The garbage can is a little too quick,” says Dawn Weiss, exhibit concept developer.

The  "Repair Stuff With Us" workshop would be offered periodically during the exhibit's run.The museum staff and volunteers set up tables in the lobby Thursday where they worked on broken items and tried to show the kids how those could be salvaged.

As for Sariel’s yo-yo, it wasn’t staying at the end of the string long enough for Sariel to manipulate it. “Ever since I banged it on the floor, I can’t do a trick,” he said.

Kevin Kenny, a carpenter by trade, showed Sariel how to open the yo-yo and reloop the string (photo above). Afterward, Sariel was thrilled to be able to do “Rock the Baby” again.

Etanell was perhaps even happier after Oeystein Larsen, a member of the museum’s exhibit staff, fixed his laptop. The part where the power cord would be plugged in had broken and fallen into the machine. “Oh, no,” Larsen joked when he saw Etanell heading toward him with the computer -- electronics can be among the most challenging items to fix. But he opened it up and showed Etanell how to glue the broken part together and then reassemble the hardware.

The tough economy is making Americans more interested in repairing items, said Judith Burgess, an exhibit adviser from Westbury. “Americans always had the impression that you could always buy a new one,” she said.

Weiss agreed with Burgess that change has begun. “People are more interested in recycling and recovering and repairing,” she said.

Certainly, the Melamed boys are now converts to that cause.

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