As parents and caregivers we are constantly looking for creative alternatives to encourage our kids away from the computer, but now UK company Kano has come up with a computer kit that, quite frankly, we would all be delighted for our kids to use.
The main difference with the Kano Computer Kit is it’s not about consuming technology, instead it is about engaging and educating a child in technology and developing new skills.
Based around the popular Raspberry Pi computer (see box below for more on that), the Kano Computer Kit puts the child directly in charge of creating his or her own technology experience at home or at school. Essentially the kit teaches the child how to build a computer from scratch and how to use code to create their own designs, games and music.
“What we are trying to do is build wide excitement in using technology and in understanding the building blocks of the digital world.”
Kano’s Head of Education, Joanna Bersin explains it perfectly; she told SparkHub: “What we are trying to do is build wide excitement in using technology and in understanding the building blocks of the digital world. Everything from what Wi-Fi is to what an operating system is. These things are going to become increasingly important so that young people can participate in the digital world.
“We are empowering a new generation by providing a fun opportunity to build their 21st Century Skills, namely problem solving, computational thinking, creativity and collaboration. If you look at the increasing numbers of STEM related careers, we are losing people early in the pipeline. So for us at Kano, it is about getting kids interested in technology and giving them the tools to understand how to use it.”
Joanna refers to The Aspirers Report, published by Kings College, London, which talked about the importance of getting young people interested in technology and STEM early on. It describes how a child with a low science capital who does not aspire to science at age 10 is highly unlikely to develop science aspirations by the age of 14.
What’s in the Kano Computer Kit?
Supported by a detailed step-by-step guide that has cleverly been developed in a storytelling way, the Kano Computer Kit is presented in a super stylish box, which in itself causes great excitement with reviewers. There are 10 plug and play components, including the latest Raspberry Pi3, together with a wireless keyboard, SD memory card, speaker, custom case, power and HDMI cables, a USB power supply and a storybook and stickers.
“If you look at the increasing numbers of STEM related careers, we are losing people early in the pipeline. So for us at Kano, it is about getting kids interested in technology and giving them the tools to understand how to use it”
Kano has also just added the option of a high definition screen (available separately to the kit). Again, using a story-book guide the user is taken through a simple step by step process to wire plug and hack the HD screen. The company says it is the world’s first self-build screen available today!
What can you do with a Kano Computer Kit?
Offering over 150 hours of creative play, the children can follow engaging and fun projects to learn all about code and create various assignments covering art, music, games and apps.
“Part of what we are aiming to do is to bridge the gap between the parent and the child.”
Along the way, users receive feedback on their progress and are rewarded with badges, which gives a great sense of progression and accomplishment.
Who is the Kano Computer Kit aimed at?
The main target group for the Kano Computer Kit is children aged 6 to twelve. The younger audience may need help with reading the guide but as Joanna explains, the idea is for the child to be able to work alone, if desired: “Part of what we are aiming to do is to bridge the gap between the parent and the child. One of the things that is great about the kit is that it can be so “kid-driven” and it is incredibly empowering for a young person to do on their own and to feel that confidence.”
“We are empowering a new generation”
Recognising that parents often want to take an active interest in their children’s learning (and let’s face it, we will be itching to have a go too) Kano has built in sections in the manual where parents can get involved and will continue to develop more tools for parents and educators to engage with the children.
“What we are aiming to do is to have these built in points along the way where it is natural for a parent to come in and ask a question. The child can then flip and do the teacher role and describe to their parent what they are doing and how it works,” explains Joanna.
To date, the Kano Computer Kit is becoming being very popular for home use but it is gaining a lot of attention from schools, libraries and kids clubs around the world. This summer, thousands of young people used Kano in camp programs across the globe. It is Joanna’s role at Kano to extend this reach and to help schools and clubs to embrace this new creative introduction to technology.
Building a safe and inspiring community
The company has developed an online portal called Kano World where children can share their creations with other users. This safe environment means that users can learn from each other and customise each other’s creations, adapting designs or pieces of music to create their own versions. “Kano World presents a live and safe environment for sharing. It is very much like how the framework for coding works in a company environment, as it is open source and we really aim to bring that back to the ethos and the way you share safely in an online community,” explains Joanna.
“We are empowering a new generation by providing a fun opportunity to build their 21st Century Skills, namely problem solving, computational thinking, creativity and collaboration.”
Where can I buy the Kano Computer Kit?
The Kano Computer Kit is available to order worldwide. Right now the kit is only available in English, but the company is currently planning to roll out regional versions, with tailored keyboards and instructions.
Buy Computer Kit:
Buy Screen kit:
Educators looking to introduce the Kano kit into their educational program are welcome to contact their team directly on education@Kano.me
Additional KANO resources
See also: Kano YouTube channel
Read also: Review by Forbes
Read also: Review by The independent