“Macgyver” Hardware Hacks

Tricia Louis
Rocketbook For Educators
3 min readMay 4, 2020


by Tricia Louis

Front view of using a mirror on a chromebook to reflect the front facing camera.

So, I have always fancied myself kind of a “Macgyver” teacher. I am always trying to come up with ways to get the most out of anything I buy/use in the classroom.

I started my career as a band teacher, so you know as a musician, we always believe that “duct tape” can just about cure anything! All kidding aside, making the most out of nothing is what I had to do as a rural school teacher.

I have transitioned out of my role as an instrumental music teacher and into an instructional support role in the technology department. So, have my “Macgyver” skills transitioned into the technology world? You bet! And I have a few “Macgyver” hardware hacks to share with you!

#1 Mirror on a Laptop/Chromebook

So many times I am asked by teachers how they could video their whiteboard lessons on a laptop/Chromebook. If you have a basic Chromebook, using an online whiteboard (without a touchscreen) is kind of difficult with just the trackpad OR using a mouse. By combining a cheap dollar store compact mirror, a piece of tape, and a mini-whiteboard, I have come up with an idea that is sure to be used in many classrooms. And, this idea is not just for teachers! It can be a great hack for student use as well.

Side view of using a mirror on a chromebook to reflect the front facing camera.

#2 Stylus on a Trackpad (Laptop/Chromebook)

If you don’t want to invest the time in using the first hack (or don’t have the supplies around), you can achieve writing on a non-touch screen device with a simple stylus. A capacitive stylus (like the one you would use on a tablet/phone) is all you need here and it does not need to be fancy! Simply bring up a drawing website on your laptop/Chromebook and grab a capacitive stylus. Hold down the trackpad (like you were clicking it) with your non-dominant hand and then use your dominant hand to write on the trackpad.

An example of using a stylus on a chromebook


#3 Using a Cookie Cooling Rack as a Tablet Holder

Now there are a lot of fancy stands out there for tablets, but if you are working on a budget, you might not have the dollars to buy them for yourself or for the students in your class. Using a cookie cooling rack (under $1 each) and a little bit of force, you can bend the cookie racks into quick tablet holders (that are stack-able in the classroom)!

iPad on a cookie drying rack that was bent to hold it

Now those are just a few of my favorite hardware hacks. Do you have some hacks you want to share? Email me at talouis@me.com or contact me through my social media channels below!

Quick Bio:

Tricia Louis

Tricia Louis is an #edtech advocate. In her position as the Technology Integration Professional at the Richland School District, she brings individual & group training to the 200+ staff employed there. Tricia is proud to be a part of the Google For Education Certified Trainer Program and is an Apple Teacher. Tricia shares her passion for Edtech at conferences and EdCamps in many different locations. In her personal life, Tricia is a musician in several local groups and she also enjoys travel and photography as her hobbies. Learn more about Tricia and her passion and purpose at her website www.tricialouis.com

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