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.

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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.

Armando Ricalde1 Armando Ricalde2 “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.

Raspberry Pi
So what is the Raspberry Pi?
If, like me, when you first heard the mention of Raspberry Pi, your only thought was “pass the double cream”, then here is a video guide to the tiny, low-cost Raspberry Pi computer, as featured in the Kano Kit. https://www.raspberrypi.org/about/
And for those in the know, this will excite you:
The Raspberry Pi 3 offers a 64 bit 1.2GHz quad Cortex A53 processor, with 1GB or ram­­ that’s a 50% performance uplift over Raspberry Pi 2; VideoCore IV Graphics Processor at a rapid 400 mhz as opposed to the Raspberry Pi 2’s 250 mhz; and Onboard 802.11n Wireless LAN and Bluetooth. There is also an optional experimental GL desktop driver, which means that all the graphics are rendered in the GPU instead of in the CPU, to run games smoothly.

What’s in the Kano Computer Kit?

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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”

Rodney Bullington (Truman)

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?

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Erwin Simons

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.

Kano provides an introduction to different programming languages, including Python and Javascript but in the ultimate kid-friendly way, that is, through much-loved games. For example, the user can learn Python through the Kano Blocks by making Minecraft and Pong. And to help them get to grips with Linux, Kano will take them into the familiar environment of Terminal Quest and Snake. I personally never thought I’d see the day I’d be encouraging my son to fire-up Minecraft!

“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?

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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.”

Carly Franklin (FB)

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:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kano-Computer-Kit/dp/B01II1U5FC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472029162&sr=8-1&keywords=kano+computer

Buy Screen kit:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/KANO-1002-Kano-Screen-Kit/dp/B017PB2TXM/ref=pd_sim_sbs_107_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=4C1G1VHWB4NFF74T32EB

Visit www.Kano.me for details. Direct sales page: http://eu.Kano.me/products/Kano-kit

Educators looking to introduce the Kano kit into their educational program are welcome to contact their team directly on education@Kano.me

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A bit of background on Kano:
Kano’s computer and coding kit for all ages broke records on Kickstarter. Kano was co­founded by Alex Klein, Yonatan Raz­-Fridman and Saul Klein and has raised $19 million in funding to date. Kano investors include Breyer Capital, Marc Benioff, Jim Breyer, Index Ventures, James Higa, Troy Carter and Shana Fisher, among others.
Kano is named after the founder of Judo, Kano Jigoro. He democratised Japanese martial arts and made it accessible to beginners, no matter where they lived or how old they were. A fitting name for a company that is doing the same for technology and children worldwide.

Additional KANO resources

See also: Kano YouTube channel

Read also: Review by Forbes

Read also: Review by The independent

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