The Piper Computer Kit is designed to get your children excited about science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM. This kit guides your kids through each step of assembling their own working computer and includes the popular game Minecraft for them to play after the computer is correctly built. While the Piper Computer Kit is a great Christmas gift idea for kids of all ages, we highly recommend it as a great gift for girls, who tend to be overlooked when it comes to strengthening and using STEM skills.
This product comes with blueprint instructions, which is great for helping kids learn how to correctly read them. Each step is outlined through illustrations. At first our test group, which consisted of both boys and girls ages 8 to 13 years old, have difficulty understanding the illustrations, but after a few steps they began to understand them and worked through the process of building the computer. The blue prints are big enough that you can place the kit on top of it and still read the instructions while assembling the computer.
It took us just over three hours to build the basic computer and get it ready to turn on. We found it interesting that the boys in our test group jumped right into building, while the girls held back until an older, female role model sat down with them and worked alongside them. By the end, the girls in the group were just as confident in their building abilities as the boys.
Getting the Piper Computer to turn on was a bit of a challenge. There are three steps given on how to assemble the main parts – the screen, Pi board, speaker and power pack – together. However, part of the instruction lets kids know that, if this doesn’t cause the screen to turn on with additional instructions, they should use trial and error to figure out what went wrong. This is where most of the children in our test group became discouraged and uninterested and left the test group.
The battery pack is rechargeable. We used our Android cell phone charger. We noticed, as have other users, that the battery uses its juice pretty quickly, so we had to recharge it often, or rig it to be continually plugged in while playing. In case you encounter any trouble getting the program part of the kit to work, the instructions come with a support email to get some help.
The Piper Computer has the popular video game Minecraft installed on it to be played once the kit is up and running. This is a great incentive for children to build the computer in order to reap the fun reward of playing the game. It also gives your children hours of playing time after the initial fun of building their own computer is done.
The Piper Computer Kit is recommended for children between the ages of 7 and 13, partly because of the small parts that may pose a choking hazard to smaller children, and because of the complexity of following directions and assembling the pieces. We noticed the younger children of our test group became bored with it after about 20 minutes, but the older children, who were 10 and older, kept with it.