Kano is a kit computer that kids can put together themselves, and programme themselves too. It’s the end product of a challenge by 7-year-old Micah Klein – the cousin of Kano co-founder Alex Klein – to make a computer he could build himself “as simple and fun as Lego.”
Kano does this by taking the Raspberry Pi single-board computer – itself made to promote the teaching of computer science in schools – and adds instructions, key accessories and software, enabling you to set it up and programme it yourself without a teacher!
We were really impressed with how well thought-out the Kano kit is, and how accessible the storybook-style instructions were to young children. Z was able to read and follow all of the instructions himself, at 6 years old, building the computer with minimal supervision. The components did indeed slot together easily like Lego!
- A Raspberry Pi 1 single-board computer, Model B with ARM 700MHz CPU and 512MB RAM.
- Child-friendly instruction books
- DIY Speaker
- Wireless keyboard with trackpad
- Kano OS – which looks a lot like Linux – pre-loaded with software including Minecraft
- 8 GB memory card pre-loaded with the OS and software (actually a micro SD card with an SD slot adapter).
- Plastic case
- Stickers to decorate the device
- Cables – HDMI and power
- Wi-Fi dongle enabling it to connect to the internet via your wi-fi router
After building the Kano, you will need to use your TV screen as the display, and you will need a spare plug socket nearby (it’s mains- rather than battery-powered). What you can see inside the plastic case is the Raspberry Pi, the brains of the Kano. It’s pretty small and since you use your TV screen, you don’t need to allow much space for this at all, and it can all be packed back into the box (or behind the TV) when not in use.
Once everything is set up, you need to wait while the updates take place which does take quite a while (it says 15 minutes but the installation time is much longer – I would leave an hour). So it’s best to go and do something else, and then come back.
After setting up the Kano, children are prompted to start typing in some simple commands to make things happen on screen. This is an easy and fun introduction to computing, which is a skill that this generation will find really useful as they grow up!
They can also use their coding skills inside popular games like Minecraft, which Z was really interested to try.
This video shows how simple the whole process is:
It’s a great product to get children introduced to computing, and to spark their interest in finding out what’s inside the computer, how it works, and how we can control it.
Each Kano kit sells for an RRP of 119.99 and ships free to most countries. Find out more about Kano on their website: Kano.me