forthings.io, a consumer website where you can shop for ‘hands-on’ electronics, established by Premier Farnell earlier this year, is offering a new kit to encourage kids to start building electronics and to learn to code. The Piper Computer Kit is a fun and educational kit that introduces young people to electronics through the ever-popular Minecraft game.
As children spend more time on their tablets and playing computer games, the Piper Computer Kit introduces kids to practical electronics and facilitates learning through ‘hands-on play’.
Piper was founded by Mark Pavlyukovskyy, named in ‘Forbes 30 under 30 in Education’ in 2018 and Dr Joel Sadler, who wrote a thesis 'Enabling Novices to Prototype Electronics' whilst undertaking a computer science project at Stanford.
Aimed at children aged between 8 and 14 years, the kit teaches the user how to build and program electronics, whilst undertaking Minecraft themed challenges.
Children begin their Piper experience by building their computer – from the wooden box to the electronics inside, following a real engineering blueprint. Once their computer is built, they are thrust into a world-saving mission, solving puzzles and building physical gadgets to hack the game itself. As they play, they receive in-game directions that guide them to add on to the hardware, build their own controller, buttons, lights and power ups.
The Piper Computer Kit also includes PiperCode which helps children learn the basics of coding with fun physical electronic games they can code themselves and the support of simple step by step tutorials.
The kit has been designed for novices with no previous experience of electronics and helps prepare them for a lifetime of building technology. It is built upon the popular Raspberry Pi single board computer, originally developed to teach electronics, which has now become a global phenomenon in the maker market and is increasingly being ‘built-in’ to real-word products.
Steve Carr, Global Head of Marketing at Premier Farnell and forthings.io says: “Piper is a fantastic way to introduce children to the basics of electronics, programming and computing. It’s a fun and challenging way to get them thinking like engineers, getting them off tablets, tinkering with hardware and software, and most importantly learning whilst they play. The Minecraft theme of the kit makes this really accessible to kids, as they learn new skills within an environment which feels familiar, allowing them to quickly build confidence as a creator of technology instead of a consumer.”
Problem solving and computational thinking are predicted to be key skills that children today will need when they leave education. Learning to code, which was added to the National Curriculum in the UK in 2014, and physical computing, which includes learning to build with electronics, can help teach these skills.
Physical computing is at the core of the Piper Computer Kit, providing real solutions for engaging the younger generation in technology and giving them the opportunity to design and create a physical device that they can then use, whilst learning important skills.
Assembling the Piper Computer Kit can take 1-2 hours and completing all of Piper’s story mode will take an additional 8-10 hours. After that, there are mini-games, music synthesizers, 3D printing, and creative mode that can bring indefinite creation and enjoyment. Each Piper also comes pre-installed with NOOBS which is the Raspberry Pi operating system providing access to an internet browser, a word processor, scratch programming, and more.
The Piper Computer Kit is available to buy from forthings.io in the UK and Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.