I have been aware of Piper
for a while now, and have thought the concept of what they have created is extremely cool. Founded in 2014, Piper focuses on STEM education and their product line is based on their DIY computer building kit. Following the Piper created blueprint, kids can physically build their own computer, and then learn the basics of electronics and programming as they work through a series of interactive video game like tutorials and adventures. Piper was in attendance at a recent media showcase event, and after getting an entertaining hands on with their system there, I was very excited to bring one home and see if my nine year old son was as excited as I was to check this out.
The promotional image above shows the Piper Computer Kit in its assembled state. You start out with a box of parts and to get to this point the builder has probably spent a few hours assembling the wooden enclosure using the included hardware and tools. They have then installed the LCD screen, mounted the Raspberry PI, and installed the other electronic components. And seeing how the controller is mostly wired up, they have completed at least a few steps in Story Mode, which works you through these later steps.
If you visit the product page
on the Piper website you can get a great understanding of it through pictures, videos, and a bit of reading. Among all of the information you will find there is a list of all the components included in the box, which I have summarized below...
» 25+ laser-etched wooden and acrylic pieces
» 50+ hardware pieces
» 20+ electronic components
» 9" LCD display with HDMI cable
» 7800 mAh rechargeable battery
» Integrated speaker
» 16GB MicroSD card
» Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
» Phillips-head screwdriver
» Wi-Fi Software Updates
» 8 square foot laminated blueprint
» USB Mouse
So, when you are all done, you have a Raspberry PI based PC with all that is required to make it like something between a tablet and a laptop. It can be battery powered or plugged in to the wall, and with a 9" widescreen monitor you will be able to execute all of the tutorials, play games, and even browse the web. It does come with a compact USB mouse, but no keyboard, as one is not required for the activities presented, but you can add your own keyboard later to further expand the capabilities / convenience.