Confession: I know nothing – NOTHING – about coding. I'm still stuck in the glory days of the "if/thens" of my original Apple IIe, circa 1983. And I barely knew how to do anything past whatever I copied verbatim from Byte. I never got that right either. I don't think. Ever. I remember staying up all night to do a Thundercats hi-res game. Tried to run it at 4am. Nothing. No Lion-O, no Cheetarah, no Snarf… NOTHING. Thus began a life of failure. BUT. I did not want my kids to suffer that same fate. Especially because it is now a presidential mandate that all kids must learn to code. And code they shall.
Kano is built on a simple idea: If kids can piece together Legos, then why not a whole computer? So they not only have a tactile experience in the building of the thing, but more importantly, they take ownership. Have a hands on experiece with their computer, and know it inside and out. My kids opened the cleverly packaged Kano box and had their machines up and running in about 45 minutes. The directions are sort of similar to Lego directions. Very simple, very easy to understand, and I'll be damned… these boys, ages 7 and 9, were coding within the hour.
The computer itself comes with a Rasberry Pi brain, all the necessary cables, a keyboard, instructions and stickers to personalize the experience. It comes loaded with a bunch of different apps: Minecraft, Scratch, hack old school Pong, hack Snake, and many other great things, all with an eye towards hacking, coding and exploring. As I've said, I'm new to this, but the "come see this, Dada!" echoes that emmanate from their room is pretty incredible, and the stuff they're coming up with wildly surpasses my expectation (and abilities).
You can use a TV for the monitor, or you can purchase a "Screen Package" which is a small, free-standing display, which they also build. It houses the Rasberry Pi brain. The keyboard and all the cables and odds and ends pack up right into the back for a really convenient and well thought-out piece of equipment. (The screen is especially great if your home has wall-mounted TVs. The provided cable is a little short to reach that high.) All in all, I'm amazed at how quickly they're picking it all up, but more to the point, how much they're enjoying themselves. They shall never feel the shame and disappointment of not being able to figure out why the "If A$="yes" then goto 100" line is not working. It was supposed to work! Byte said it would work!!!!!
Kano Computer Kit
Ages 7 and up
$150 Buy one on Amazon