Build a computer. Play Minecraft.
I’m sure those are the only words my son heard as I explained to him what we’d be doing with Piper. He was not listening to me go on about STEM education and he doesn’t care about my obsession with hands-on/minds-on activities. He zoomed in on three words: Build. Play. Minecraft. And he was all-in.
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What is Piper?
While he was excited about playing, I was excited that he’d have the opportunity to build a computer and learn some programming skills. The Piper computer kit comes with all the components necessary for kids to assemble a computer using Raspberry Pi. Kids follow a blueprint to build the computer, then follow directions to advance through a special edition of Minecraft Story.
Kids learn physical engineering and electronics as they navigate through the Piper experience. They also utilize critical thinking and problem solving kids as they learn to build and code.
You can purchase a single Piper Kit to use at home and there are also packages available for classroom and school use.
Our Experience With the Piper Computer Kit
My sixth grader could not wait to get started with Piper when it arrived. The ordering experience was quite smooth and they send alert emails throughout the process. He knew it was coming and couldn’t wait to open it. Believe me, he was not disappointed.
The kit comes with everything you need, although there were a few moments when we convinced something was missing. The large blueprint they sent with the instructions is very thorough. There were a few confusing elements, but he was able to push through that confusion and get everything set up.
Until Piper, we’d spent most of our homeschool technology time learning to code. I’d hoped he’d fall in love with coding, but so far, he hasn’t. I do know he enjoys working with his hands, so I figured Piper would be right up his alley. I was right! We worked on Piper a few days a week, using the blueprint, the very helpful Piper forum and the Piper Unit Plan (which I think I found through a Google search). We both learned a great deal, although I let him do 90% of the work alone. This ten minute video recaps our entire experience, including some of the “oops” moments and a bit of our back and forth.
Our Piper Computer Kit Review
 It makes mama’s life easier. I’m always looking for great tech we can include in our homeschool curriculum and because this was largely student-directed, it made things a lot easier for mama.  It’s kid approved, and he enjoyed every minute of it.  It delivers what was promised.  At $299, it is expensive for the average family. I ended up trying it sooner than I planned because I found out about their $49 monthly rental plan. I can’t find it on the site any longer, but it may be something you should research.  It’s definitely unique, although I’m seeing more and more similar products becoming available.
I hope this glimpse into our experience helps. I definitely recommend giving Piper a try and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments if you decide to. You can grab your kit on their website or on Amazon. You can also check out the site for more details on what’s included and the skills that are covered.