Piper + Bakersfield CSD: Building a Scalable STEAM Summer Camp

Piper + Bakersfield CSD: Building a Scalable STEAM Summer Camp

Innovating in response to post-COVID academic and behavioral challenges, Bakersfield City School District partnered with Piper to create a multi-year summer camp for 5,000 students to boost STEAM skills for students, grades 3-8.


THE PROBLEM: Bakersfield City School District (in California's Central Valley) students were challenged by learning losses and behavioral challenges post-pandemic. 

THE SOLUTION: Piper partnered with BCSD to create a new, fun, and engaging 3-week summer camp for students with the Piper Computer Kit V3 (in-person) and Piper Make Starter + Game Controller kits (virtual).

THE OUTCOME: Students reported feeling more creative and more confidence  around building electronics and coding. They also became more confident about describing their problem-solving processes. 


The Piper Computer V3, a complete DIY computer-building experience, was offered for in-person camp attendees. Beginning from building their computer from a blueprint to building and coding circuits from gameplay, students engaged in a productive struggle. Buoyed by seeing their grit pay off, students grew more confident and collaborative through the process. After the camp, the kits were refurbished by Piper for students the following year. 

The Piper Make Starter Kit and Controller was offered for 7th and 8th-grade students attending virtual camp. Designed for use with personal computers at home, this distance learning solution allowed students at home to build fundamental STEAM skills. In addition to learning basic circuitry and coding with the Starter Kit, students also built their own Game Controller which they used to play games they coded. 

Piper developed new resources for BCSD tailored to the products and the summer program specifications. These Piper Make and Piper Computer Kit V3 Playbooks served as abbreviated version of the full 5E-based Premium Curriculum. These resources allowed instructors quick and easy access to lessons, educator guides, and supplemental activity resources.

Bakersfield City School District (Bakersfield, California)

Program Size: 5000 Students

Ages: 8-14 year olds (Grades 3-8)

Program Format: 3 week-long, in-person and virtual

THE TEACHER EXPERIENCE: Piper hosted a one-day instructor training for 75 teachers. With a 10-person Piper team who reviewed the Piper approach, software, and curriculum with a hands-on experience. Teachers who led the Piper STEAM program also built confidence around electronics and coding skills, troubleshooting, and explaining STEAM concepts.


Through their partnership with Piper to tailor STEAM learning experiences for their students, Bakersfield City School District developed a multi-year summer program to support the district's key STEAM and SEL goals. From STEAM skills to increased collaboration in the classroom, the summer Piper experience was rewarding for teachers and students alike. 

Planning for future programs will include standards alignment for math as well as additional teacher tools and career connected learning to enhance the experience even further. 


Summer Camp Student Growth

Reusable Products

Increased Introductory STEAM Skills

Allows Multi-Year Program Design

Communication and Collaboration Skills Strengthened

Cost Effective

Productive Struggle Increased Confidence

KEY STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: Students reported statistically significant increases in perceived creativity and confidence around making electronics, software, circuits, and coding after the Piper Computer Kit experience.


Understanding the Student Experience: 

Students participating in the Piper Computer Kit experience were given surveys before diving into the 5 phases of the educational experience (Build, StoryMode, PiperCode, Sensors, and Make-a-thon). They were asked the following questions with a survey (see blank sample here) and asked to rate their confidence on a scale of 0-7. The same survey was then applied after the experience. The pre- and post-surveys were matched based on name. 

Watch the BCSD Build: 

Understanding the Data Presentation

*The following executive summary includes data on self-reported measures of confidence from students before and after the Piper Computer Kit experience. This data does not include statistical tests and has not been reviewed by a third party.

As the data from students was reported on a discrete scale (i.e., it was not possible to report a confidence of 3.5), we chose to utilize violin plots to represent the distribution of data. 

Violin plots show the density of certain responses around certain points -- let's imagine that we asked 10 students how confident they felt about computer science on a scale of 0 to 10. Imagine each student response is a dot. 

  • If all 10 reported a 0/10 in confidence, we would see the "No Confident" plot (RED).
  • If all 10 reported a 10/10 in confidence, we would see the "All Confident" (BLUE).
  • More realistically, if the students fell curve where some felt confident and some didn't, we would see the "REALISTIC" (GREEN). 

Data from Bakersfield Students: 

Students who did not fill out the pre- and post-survey or did not use the same identifier (name on form used for matching) were excluded from this analysis. 312 students with complete data were included. Paired t-tests were measure statistical significance of matched pre-survey and post-survey data for population of students. All tests yielded p-values of less than 0.0001 (denoted by ****), establishing statistical significance. 

The following conclusions can be drawn from the above data: 

  • On average, students reported that they felt more creative after the Piper Computer Kit experience (mean of difference = 0.4936, 95% CI = 0.2486 to 0.7386).
    • Interestingly, note that most students come into class feeling creative with clustering at higher scores—and Piper Computer Kits pushed those who did not feel creative into that cluster! 
  • When asked about confidence about making something with electronics, students were relatively evenly distributed in scoring (the violin is wider everywhere). However, after the experience, more students reported feeling more confident about making something with electronics (mean of difference = 0.8942, 95% CI = 0.6683 to 1.120). 
  • When asked about confidence about making an electronic circuit that lights up, students were relatively evenly distributed in scoring (the violin is wider everywhere). However, after the experience, more students reported feeling more confident about making an electronic circuit that lights up (mean of difference = 1.083, 95% CI = 0.8211 to 1.346).  
  • When asked about confidence about coding software, students were especially distributed, with several students reporting no confidence (hence the dip of the violin below the zero). However, after the experience, most students reported feeling significantly more confident about coding software (mean of difference = 0.9103, 95% CI = 0.6721 to 1.148). 
  • When asked about confidence about coding a button to do something when clicked, students were relatively evenly distributed in scoring (the violin is wider everywhere). However, after the experience, more students reported feeling more confident about coding a button to do something when clicked (mean of difference = 1.272, 95% CI = 1.029 to 1.516).  

As such, Piper Computer Kits are a robust tool to encourage global confidence boosts for students across multiple computer science and electrical engineering skill sets. 

We would like to acknowledge Brandon Ware and the Bakersfield team for making this program a reality.

See the Dream Team (And Piper in Bakersfield Classrooms): 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published