Lesson Time:
45 to 75 minutes



During these build sessions, teachers are asked to facilitate the learners through constructing the case, connecting the components, and successfully wiring up the Piper mini computer.

It usually takes 1-4 hours to complete a kit build based on grade level, collaboration, and group size. Give your students more time if needed and follow with lesson 1.4 to incorporate deeper learning of the parts and final reflection before moving on to Phase 2 by powering up the computer.





Project Manager



Hardware Engineer


Students will experiment with the components of the computer to learn how they fit together. They will begin to work as members of a team and assume roles in the team.



Students will:


Decompose the challenge of building a computer by breaking down the tasks into steps.



Build teamwork skills by combining understanding and assigning roles to solve problems.



Perform different roles when collaborating with peers.



Explore how physical connections to components build a mini computer system, including both input and output devices.



Practice forming and active as a collaborative team.



Students are in the same teams as the first day, or make adjustments as necessary to facilitate good teamwork.

Prepare to pass out the kits. Make sure each kit contains all the components. Use the Inventory List to verify parts. (See inventory list in Appendix.)


Charge the batteries before every session. *Note: If you don’t want students to go into the software yet hold on to the power packs and remove them from the Piper boxes (recommended).

Create student team storage boxes to store Piper build components in process. Also provide an organizer for students to place screws and small parts after they take them out of the bag (such as a plastic box or a paper plate or cup).


It is helpful to reinforce class norms, roles, and responsibilities for set up, organization, safety and clean up.

Teacher-led Discussion on Teamwork:

  • "As part of being like engineers, we are going to work together in teams."
  • Have you been part of a team before? What does it mean to be a good team member?- Write teamwork phrases on the board (suggestions: consideration or respect, making a contribution, communication, collaboration, coming to consensus, creativity, sharing/taking turns, good work habits).

  • Encourage students to come up with their definition of what the terms mean and what it is like to be exceptional, proficient, or unacceptable in each category.

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  • Build the Piper Computer:

  1. Distribute kits to predesignated groups.
  2. Explain that they will take several days to assemble the Piper Computer. Students will work together in teams and use the blueprint as a building guide. *Note: Students should have a plan under the “During” column of the visual organizer before they begin.
  3. Have students open the kit, review the materials, tools, and hardware.
    Guiding question: Do the parts match the inventory provided by our blueprint? How will you organize your inventory for the most efficient use of your time?
  4. Guide students to differentiate between types of screws, fasteners, etc. It is crucial that they know the difference between long and short screws and the appropriate tool to use.
  5. **Note: students may need a coin for the binders that attach the linkage
  6. Try not to micromanage here; students will make mistakes and find ways to solve the problem themselves. You can project this video and scroll to the step students are stuck on if they really need it.
  7. Go around from team to team and ask essential questions to reinforce objectives:
    • What step are you on? Are you following the sequence?

    • Do you have all the parts that you need for this step?

    • Are you using the Blueprint? (Point to specific items on the blueprint and ask what they mean).

    • Did you lay out the parts like they show in the example? Did you see the clues that help you find the right parts?

    • Did you understand what the flip arrow means?

    • Did you notice there is a different size of screws for the hinges?

  8. What do you think that does in the computing system?
  9. Where do you think this connects to?
  10. What would you call that? (point to one of the devices)
  11. How do we know which one it is? Do those parts have labels? Who can tell me some of the labels for the parts?
  12. Is where you connect things important? How do you know where things connect?

The continued build steps will help if the learning is led by the learners themselves but educators should help reinforce the computer science learning around teamwork and problem solving (Reference CA CS Standards 3-5.CS.3 Determine potential solutions to solve simple hardware and software problems using common troubleshooting strategies; also see 3-5.CS.3 Determine potential solutions to solve simple hardware and software problems using common troubleshooting strategies. - For example, students could prepare for and participate in a collaborative discussion in which they identify and list computing system problems and then describe common successful fixes. (CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy SL.3.1, SL.4.1, SL.5.1)


Share lessons learned: (5-15 minutes)

  • Review vocabulary words and definitions that were encountered during the lesson.
  • Through group discussion, encourage early adopters to help others clarify misconceptions and answer questions as needed.

Closing Activity (10-15% of class time)

  1. Have students record any new findings on their sketches/drawings from Lesson 1.1 and share out to the whole group (you can have students post these on the walls and do a "Gallery Walk"). You can provide them with a different colored pen or sticky notes to indicate new items learned.
    • Prompt and expect students to use vocabulary, definitions, and explanations provided previously in new context. (They have just built a computer, what terms are they using to explain what they did?)
  2. Make sure groups organize, label and store their parts and builds still in progress.
    - For storage, the Piper Computer Kit boxes allow for the storage of a built or unbuilt Piper Computer. Some educators opt for plastic bins to make storage easier.​​
  3. Collect notes and team storage box with kits.

Closing Activity (5-10% of class time):

  • Review student sketches/drawings or listen to presentations during the Gallery Walk. Are all the Piper computer parts included? Put sticky notes on drawings asking questions about missing parts or misconceptions
  • Create Exit slips with a list of each teamwork category and have students reflect and rate themselves 1 to 5 on how well they are doing in each category and list two teamwork skills they need to work on to improve.