Piper Computer Kits; Hands on Learning

I am excited to share the new creations of Alex Stokes and Mark Pavlyukovskyy, two recent Princeton graduates. The build-it-yourself electronics kits they have invented are wonderful for interactive learning and drive home the idea that play can be knowledge building. Mr. Stokes and Mr.Pavlyukovskyy realized that closed computer programs and video games don’t allow interested children to see how the gadgets work and they did not wish to just teach abstract computer coding. The small computer hardware kits come with LED lights, circuit boards and wiring. As the child correctly hooks up the wires, they get instant feedback that they are on the right track and the results appear on the computer screen. What better way for a child to learn many skills from reading instructions and using tools to correcting mistakes made to get the desired end result. In my opinion these electronic kits not only teach computer science skills but they also form great work habits and enrich a child’s self-confidence.

The two young entrepreneurs, Mr. Stokes and Mr. Pavlyukovskyy, gave their products hands on testing by offering them to middle school students before they launched their crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter earlier this year allowing mass production of the kits. Using feedback from the students to fine tune the products was a valuable learning tool for Mr. Stokes and Mr. Pavlyukovskyy, who both say they tried to create a product they would have been thrilled to get their hands on at a younger age. Students mentioned the following benefits they had gotten from the products; “it makes you think, interactivity is a great motivator, and it makes us want to design and build our own products”.

For the homeschooling family looking for hands on projects these new computer hardware kits sound like great learning tools. If you don’t wish to buy a ready-made product or just want to start in a simpler manner, then another suggestion is to allow your child to take a household item no longer in use and take it apart piece by piece. My children did this with an old television and a toaster and they marveled to see what was inside these items and how they were put together. Once you decide to let your children get absorbed in one of these projects monitor the progress of the project and stay alert for any breakable parts or sharp objects which could cause injury. Be ready then for your child to fast forward with creations of their own.


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