The Kano KitThe Raspberry Pi has found a place in the maker community, but the original idea behind the Pi was to build a tiny and cheap computer for kids, and to reinvent computing education in schools. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has made a lot of progress toward that goal—assisted by companies like Google—and with the inherited mantle of the BBC Micro which still looms over how computing is taught here in the UK.

The Kano Kit takes the Raspberry Pi back to its education roots and earlier today I talked to Alex Klein, co-founder of Kano Computing, about the Kano Kit, why they’re putting it together, how it’s different from every other bundle for the Pi, and their Kickstarter campaign which kicked off today.

An interview with Alex Klein, co-founder of Kano Computing

The Kit consists of everything you need to turn your Raspberry Pi into a small computer—including the Raspberry Pi. The keyboard is custom designed for the kit with an built-in track pad on the right and can be held, and used, like a gamepad as it has two additional “mouse” buttons on the left.

It comes with two manuals—walking you through not just how to build the computer, but also how to use it.

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However the most interesting thing about the kit might well be the software. KanoOS—based on Debian—is a custom distribution designed for education and comes with their graphical programming language, KanoBlocks. Unlike a lot of block-based programming languages, KanoBlocks generates real code—Javascript or Python—along side the block view, and you don’t have to stay in the block level. Once you understand what is going on you can drop down into the code layer and modify the underlying code directly.

Making Pong with KanoBlocks

Making Minecraft with KanoBlocks

For those looking to put together a home computer system based around the Raspberry Pi, the Kano Kit looks like an attractive option. It wouldn’t be entirely out of place in your living room, which isn’t something many Pi bundles can claim.

I’ll also be interested to see what sort of stretch goals they have in mind—after all the one thing the kit is lacking is a screen. A portable screen to match their bright orange keyboard might well be an interesting addition to the kit.

How to make a computer—in 107 seconds

The Kano Computing project is now live on Kickstarter, and at $99 it looks like a pretty stylish bundle. It’s a pity it won’t be here in time to fill our Christmas stockings as its predicted to ship mid-summer next year, but at least that means you can start your Christmas shopping for next year early?

Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.


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