In 5th grade, students take a weekly one-hour class called Fab Five. The Fab Five classes consist of Drama, Journalism, Public Speaking, Creative Computing and Wellness. Students will have the opportunity to take all the classes, as each one is offered every six weeks. The first rotation recently ended and the groups have moved onto their second rotation of classes.
In the Creative Computation class, students learned to build a computer from scratch. First, they identified the inputs, outputs and hardware necessary to operate a computer. Using a blueprint from the Piper kit, pairs of students collaborated to assemble the storage box and display for the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. After three classes of building, students excitedly turned the battery on to power up their computer. They squealed with excitement and joy as they saw the display come to life with Piperbot and Pip, the two main characters in PiperCraft. The PiperCraft mod consists of 10 worlds, or modules, which guided students through building electrical circuits. In the first module, students created a controller for the game connecting left, right, up buttons with wires to a breadboard. In subsequent modules, students connected LEDs, buzzers, and switches to advance to the next worlds in PiperCraft.
According to Piper, the objective of the kit is to instill creative confidence with electronics and to learn about engineering via gaming. The experience of building a computer from scratch was definitely challenging and frustrating for the students yet they all felt empowered and were so proud at the end. With patience, perseverance, attention to detail and a growth mindset, all students were successful in building their computer. A student reflected on the last day of class, “I loved it when you couldn't get a piece in and kept trying to get it in, then it gets in and [you realize that] it's backwards, and you have to do it again. And finally, wow, I made this!” Another student commented, “First I couldn't wait to finish it, [but] building was much more fun than playing it. My favorite part was when we worked together and we got things right."
The Piper kit addressed K-12 computer science standards of computing systems, crosscutting concepts of invention and innovation, patterns and abstraction, and practices of computational thinking. Furthermore they addressed NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) of developing and using electronic models, patterns, engineering, technology and applications of science. One student summarized the course the best, “We screwed things in, and it was so satisfying when you're done—you got to play on the computer you made!”
- 5th Grade
- Lower Division