Piper Computer Kit

Piper: Build Your Own Mini-Computer and Play Minecraft, Too!

Product: Piper Computer Kit (ages 8-12)
Glows: Fun, challenging, and incredibly engaging. I had a blast putting this together! Your child will learn a lot from Piper.
Grows: Occasionally the game will breeze by an instruction too quickly. You may have to replay it or consult an info box to continue.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Description

Piper is a fascinating little kit that let’s your child play Minecraft on a Raspberry Pi-powered computer that they assemble themselves. The kit is composed of over 100 puzzle-like parts, which must be assembled using only the tools and blueprints provided in the box.

Once the basic parts are assembled the screen will show you how to do the rest. It does so via a charming program that uses Minecraft to teach your child the basics of computing. By playing through Story Mode, the game teaches the player how to wire buttons and switches, how they handle the flow of energy differently, how you can use them together, and so on. Your child won’t have to worry about making mistakes. Piper embraces failure as a valuable part of the learning process, and encourages you to keep trying until you get it right.

Piper engineering blueprint
Courtesy of Piper
Piper Kit
Courtesy of Piper

Raspberry Pi Edition of Minecraft 

Piper runs the Raspberry Pi edition of Minecraft (Piper Universe). This is wonderful because it provides relatively high performance at a low cost. The kit makes it incredibly easy to install and use. The program did crash on me when I tried to download additional story mode levels, but Piper explained that the delay was a normal part of the update process.

The kit you receive is beautifully designed and assembly is as fun as it is challenging. I put together this unboxing video to show what the kit looks like from the outside in:

Minecraft as a Classroom

Since Piper uses Minecraft to teach fairly complex ideas, such as electronic wiring, it’s important that your child already has some familiarity with how to play Minecraft. Once they’ve got the Raspberry Pi running, the game gives instructions for how to build additional parts for the Piper machine, such as a controller and switches. The game itself can sometimes go a little too fast to understand the next instruction, but this is easily remedied by replaying the instruction or using a blue info box.

After working through all the story mode levels in Pipercraft you’ll unlock limitless Minecraft creative mode. But that’s not all. In addition to Pipercraft, the Raspberry Pi includes an internet browser, word processor, Scratch, and more. The kit provides your child with limitless project possibilities!

A Good Investment

Piper’s $299 price tag may seem steep, but it is very good for what you get with the kit. Piper comes with good quality, durable parts that will survive any mistakes you make during the construction process, as well as a suite of creative software. If you choose to invest in a Piper for your junior Minecrafter, I think it’s a very good investment. The way Piper is designed will help your child learn STEM concepts in a fun, challenging way. Learn more about Piper by clicking here.

Disclosure: I received a free Piper from the company, which I used as the basis for this review.

Catherine Fox is a Connected Camps Assistant Camp Director with a BA degree in Interactive Entertainment from USC.Catherine Fox is a Connected Camps Assistant Camp Director with a BA degree in Interactive Entertainment from USC.

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