Piper Computer Kit
Age range 7 years thru 12 years
Toy Type EG ES SA TC Piper is a DIY computer kit to learn engineering through Minecraft Pi Edition. It is both an all-in-one computer and an invention kit. Children will be able to assemble their own beautifully engraved computer and play a Minecraft mod that guides you to craft electronics and gadgets. Today's kids grow up with "black box" phones, computers and gadgets that come in beautiful packages, but leave no room for tinkering or understanding how they work. The creator of this product believes it is critical for children to understand fundamentally how technology works in order to make sense of our environment and invent the future. Research done by Stanford University Professor Joel Sadler has shown that the initial forays into learning about and building with technology are usually the most critical in determining long-term engagement and often are the ones that intimidate beginners most. Inspiring novices and students to see technology, electronics, and code as building blocks from which to make your next invention rather than intimidating tools accessible to the few is a problem that has not been adequately solved yet. After struggling to teach himself to program and build simple electronic prototypes and eventually succeeding, Mark Pavlyukovskyy, a researcher at Princeton, decided to create a tool that would lower the barrier to entry for kids to start their journey into inventing with technology. After speaking with thousands of parents and kids, Mark had an insight that learning should be integrally tied into a game to make the content relevant and engaging. The game Mark chose was the most popular game in the world to this day: Minecraft. Mark made the first prototype of the Piper Minecraft Computer Kit in 2013 and travelled to four continents to test it with kids of every age and nationality. As prototypes turned into real products, Mark began collaborating with Dr. Sadler at Stanford to optimize the Piper Computer Kit for learning. The Piper Minecraft Computer Kit was released to the general public in 2015 as a computer that kids would build themselves over the course of a few hours before engaging in a Minecraft Story Mode to begin their journey into making and creating with code and electronics. Using surveys to better understand the effect of engaging with Piper for kids, Mark and Joel found that building and playing with Piper consistently drove confidence with technology and perceived ability up 20% in controlled pre- and post-surveys. Today, Piper is a unique product that is a computer kit, a learning system, and an invention system all wrapped into one. Thousands of parents have purchased Piper for their kids and dozens of schools now use Piper as part of their daily curriculum to teach STEM, programming, and engineering. Inventors like Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk have endorsed Piper by saying, "I love Piper because it represents what enabled me to do all the great technology things in my life," and purchasing the product for their kids.