If you’re looking to improve your child’s STEM skills, this Raspberry Pi powered Minecraft-centric, feature-packed learning kit is a great option, albeit a bit pricey.
The Raspberry Pi is a great educational device, but in its bare state it might not be immediately obvious.
Several companies have tried to «fix» this shortcoming by repackaging the Pi as part of a more STEM-oriented experience for kids. They’ve dealt with varying levels of success, so what did Piper bring?
The ultimate DIY computer experience?
Well, it’s more than just another Raspberry Pi and a keyboard. Piper describes himself as a «computer kit» and of course it takes quite a bit of effort to get the Raspberry Pi up and running.
The website is full of accolades from users and even Apple founder Steve Wozniak, who is addicted to the Piper Computer Kit, which he claims is «the ultimate do-it-yourself computer building experience.»
You will no doubt agree that this is a high demand.
However, the Piper Computer Kit received support from Stanford University and was a 2018 Tech Toy of the finalist. It aims to teach your child essential critical thinking, engineering skills, knowledge of electronics, basic programming and practical coding.
All in all, it’s like a Raspberry Pi in a wooden box. To find out if this is true, I turned to my seven-year-old son for help.
The Piper Computer Kit comes in a standard cardboard box. It has a nice optical illusion on the side when you remove the main unit from the sleeve — by turning the screws. When the packaging is this good, you never know if the product will disappoint or be amazing…
Initial impressions of sulfur in many ways. It’s basically a box full of wood, with a Raspberry Pi 3 even mounted on a wooden plate.
In fact, there is a tree everywhere.
You might think that in the 21st century “this is no place for wooden computers; it’s not 1977″ and in many ways you’d be right.
However, the 7″ display, mouse, breadboard (and two smaller ones) and brass fittings all work together nicely, giving you:
- lockable wooden box with built-in display
- Raspberry Pi computer with access to GPIO pins
- mouse (no keyboard)
- layout for installing buttons, LEDs, etc.
In short, that’s exactly what it says: a computer kit. Designed for kids to build, it even features an impressive set of instructions presented as a blueprint.
About Raspberry Pi
Several versions of the Raspberry Pi have been released since 2012, and almost all of them are still available. This is due to their suitability for a range of purposes.
The Piper Computer Kit comes with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. This model was released in 2016 and comes with built-in wireless and Bluetooth. With four USB ports and an Ethernet port, there’s also a standard HDMI connector, a TRRS multi-functional audio/media port, and a USB power connector.
Inside the Raspberry Pi 3, you’ll find a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a Broadcom GPU. They are combined into a single SoC (system on a chip) to save space and increase the efficiency of the computer.
There is also a microSDHC slot from where the operating system is loaded. The Piper Computer Kit comes pre-installed with the Piper OS on an 8 GB card. This must be inserted into the Raspberry Pi before the computer is screwed into the box.
Also in the box is a 7″ HDMI LCD, USB mouse, portable lithium battery and speaker. You’ll also find the various USB and HDMI cables you need to connect, as well as plenty of switches, buttons, wires, and LEDs.
What can you learn from this?
It can be argued that the Raspberry Pi’s potential for teaching young children has never been fully realized. Luckily, Piper has proven that all it takes is the right set of peripherals, components, and battery pack.