Piper is a DIY hacker toolbox that teaches young people to build real electronics while playing Minecraft.
We’ve already seen projects such as Bitsbox and Primo designed to help kids learn coding — often without them realizing. Now, switching the emphasis from software to hardware development, Piper is a hacker toolbox that teaches young people about building real electronics while playing Minecraft.
Piper is the brainchild of Mark Pavlyukovskyy and Shree Bose — who recently won the Google Science Fair. It is a self contained kit inside a wooden box, which can be explored by kids from as young as five. The box contains a USB mouse, a Raspberry Pi 2 mini-computer, a power bank that provides up to five hours of playtime, and various cables and electronics.
To begin, players must first assemble and decorate the box and connect the components. Users can either refer to the instruction manual or simply dive straight in and rely on their own intuition and creativity. Once constructed, the small screen shows players a modified Minecraft world. Their mission is to fix a robot’s hardware and send it to an unknown planet: to do so, the player must build the hardware in real life following instructions and feedback on the screen. After that, the player can explore the Minecraft world, building real life electronics which affect the virtual world they are playing in. Kids can build anything from LED flashlights to see at night to buttons which activate secret passageways.
Piper is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. It has fulfilled its USD 50,000 goal four times over already with a few days remaining. Pledgers can pre-order the toolkits for USD 149. The first sets are expected to be delivered in December 2015.
Piper helps kids learn about the technology they are surrounded by — showing them how creative and rewarding it can be. Are there other ways to teach children about what goes on behind the scenes of their favourite electronics?