Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Kano - my son's Best. Present. Ever.

Last Christmas we got our 8yo a Kano DIY computer kit, which he says is his Best. Present. Ever. Since then I've had a few parents ask me about it, so I thought I'd put the info here so I can just refer any other queries here.*

The idea behind it is this - kids today have access to devices like tablets or smartphones that are already fully-functioning, but they don't get the chance to start from scratch (a'la Bill Gates in the garage in the 70's), and understand what goes on underneath it all.

The Kano is a build-your-own computer kit using a Raspberry Pi, which is a credit-card sized computer processor. You could just buy a Raspberry Pi on it's own but then you'd still need to get a keyboard, mouse, SD card etc. The Kano is a kid-friendly kit that has all that in it (although you still need to get your own monitor, that's not part of the kit). You just order via the Kano website and it's free shipping worldwide.

After they assemble all the bits (there are instructions), they need to install the Kano operating system and then they join KanoWorld (using parental email address), and work through various tasks and skills, and get points so they can advance to higher levels. There are things like Pong, a music editor, Minecraft and some coding stuff, among others. They're using the Internet, but they don't have free-range.

The Raspberry Pi is that little contraption bottom-left of pic
I have to say that Kano's support is fantastic. One of the tasks they can get points for is to send an email to Kano support. I had no idea my son had done this until I got the email (he's set up using my email account). They replied the next day and gave him the info he requested!

Of course, the Raspberry Pi can be used for other things, there are pages of "Raspberry Pi for kids" links with projects they can do. My son is eyeing off some giant toy spider project at the moment, where you program a Raspberry Pi to make the spider walk across the floor, eek. :/

* Disclaimer: I don't work for Kano or know anybody who does! I just think it's awesome. :)
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