Piper Computer Kit
Looking for a fun project to do with your kid? Check out the Piper Computer Kit, which has everything you need to assemble and customize your own Raspberry Pi 3-powered microcomputer, which then teaches them STEM and coding concepts via a custom Minecraft adventure.
The way it works is, after assembling the wooden outer shell, connecting the Pi to the included powerbank and LCD display, then booting it all up, you’ll discover there’s a robot on-screen (aka “Piperbot”) sitting at some kind of mission control. From there, you navigate him on his way to rescue astronauts on a hostile planet. However, his hardware is damaged by asteroids on the way over, and it’s your job to build controls and power-ups that allow him to navigate and return safely to Earth.
In-game tasks include:
- Building an array of buttons and switches to navigate your way across giant mushrooms
- Assembling an LED light proximity sensor to find diamonds and learn about outputs
- Adding switches to uncover secret bridges, open hidden doors, and blow up blocks with TNT
- Using a buzzer piano to enter secret codes, find hidden rewards, and make it across a disappearing bridge
- Add motion detectors when traversing underwater levels
- Switch on an LED flashlight to see at night
Here’s a diagram of everything the kit includes:
Since everything is built by hand on a physical breadboard, you get instant feedback in the game to let you know when you’ve done it correctly. Also, new levels can be downloaded using the included Wi-Fi dongle.
This is an outstanding way to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills to kids who may go on to be the engineers and programmers of tomorrow. Get the kit for $299 on Amazon.