Raspberry Pi Launches Kano Kits To Teach Kids Computing

Raspberry Pi, the tiny, budget computer perfect for students to learn computer basics, is at it again with Kano, an open-source computer science education kit built on Raspberry Pi is aimed at teaching kids computing in the classroom.

Eben Upton, the founder of Raspberry Pi, envisioned that the low-cost computer would do its finest work in the classroom, but Raspberry Pi developed a strong, distinctive niche among adult enthusiasts, a group that doesn’t have much in common with a younger age bracket. The Raspberry Pi-based Kano can reinvigorate Upton’s vision and bring the unit back to the classroom, according to Alex Klein, Kano’s co-founder and CTO.

“We have this nimble, hackable piece of cheap tech in the Raspberry Pi,” said Alex. “But it’s not catalyzing the interest of beginners and kids like it should.”

According to Lauren Hockenson of GigaOm, the Kano is an open-source Raspberry Pi kit with two immediate goals: to make setting up the Raspberry Pi as easy as putting together a Lego set, and to use that computer to engage kids in fun and easy Computer Science lessons that can be conducted in a classroom or at home.

Things escalated fast on crowd-funding website Kickstarter after launching a Kano campaign on November 18th: In just 18 hours, the project hit its initial goal and by selling out all of its $99 Kano kits and has currently surpassed its funding goals more than seven times over. It’s now on pace to clear the coveted Kickstarter million-dollar mark by the time the fundraiser ends next month.

“The Kickstarter launch, which has blown away our expectations, has had feedback of all ages, all around the world expressing their excitement over making a computer,” Klein said. “I think there’s a real latent hunger for this.”

Klein remains optimistic that the team can deliver on the promises that it has made to the nearly 7,000 backers that have already supported the project.

The company was able to refine the hardware from a large, brown kit to a smaller, clearer case system that was more portable and friendly for working with kids. The company refined the software of Kano, which comes on a small SD card with every kit, including  Kano Blocks — a coding environment that takes advantage of block programming to break big coding concepts down for the under-12 demographic.

“The construction of the kit gives an entry point, but we launch them into these projects that can go for dozens of hours and are infinitely scalable,” Klein explained. “Any project you could accomplish with Python or Javascript can be translated into these Kano Blocks and be easily built.”

The Kano is set to become a tool not only for educating the next generation of kids about how to create with computers, but that could change communities around the world.

“We do see this being a part of an ecosystem,” Klein said. “What’s very lucky about being an open source company is that we don’t have to build it all ourselves to give a sense of play and accessibility.”