Lesson Time:
45 to 60 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.

Throughout the process, they will learn to make adjustments to their plan as well as practice grit and perseverance by learning from their mistakes.

They will also practice using a screwdriver as well as various common hardware.





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.



  • Students are in the same teams as the first day, or make adjustments as necessary to facilitate good teamwork.
  • Prepare to pass out the storage boxes from Day 1. Make sure each storage box contains all the components. Use the Inventory List to verify parts.
  • 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).

Introduction (5-15 minutes)

  1. Have several groups share the current status of their build and share a lesson learned or discovery moment.
    • *Facilitate a collaborative discussion in which they identify and list computing system problems and then describe common successful fixes.
  2. Reinforce norms, roles and responsibilities of setup, organization, safety, and cleanup.
  3. Teacher-led Discussion: Role Assignment - Remind teams of the roles and check to see if they are switching roles.

Build Computer Activity (80% of class time)

  1. Distribute Piper Computer Kit boxes (or storage containers) with components to each group.
  2. Students should be working on their planned steps for Day 2 in the visual organizer.
  3. Try not to micromanage here; students will make mistakes and find ways to solve the problem themselves. Productive Struggle is ok. (Ask three before me!)
  4. 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?

Share lessons learned (5-15 minutes)

Activity: Learn the Parts of the Computer (10 to 15 min):

Show students the Piper Computer Kit blueprint and have them identify the different parts that make up the computer. Students should be aware they will be sharing their work with the class later. As they identify the parts, have them answer the following:

  1. What are its parts? Label them. (Screen, Camera, Speaker/Amplifier system, Microphone, Touch Screen, Keyboard)
  2. What are the purposes of the parts? How do you get information into and out of the computer? What do you use? (touch screen, keyboard, microphone, camera) Use a different colored pen to write the purpose.
  3. What are the questions that we have about the parts? (possible answers: What can you control with them? How do they work? How do you connect them? How are they related to each other? How do they send information back and forth?) Use a different colored pen and write your questions beside the parts.

* This Parts, Purposes, & Complexities discussion can be critical in facilitating understanding of the computer science concept that computing technologies that have changed the world, and learners’ ability to express how those technologies influence, and are influenced by, cultural practices (CA CS Standards 3-8.IC.20)


Extending Understanding (10-15% of class time)

  1. Have students record any new findings on their graphic artifact (drawings) from Lesson 1.1 and share out to the whole group (post on walls). Use a different colored pen or sticky notes to indicate new items learned. *
  2. Make sure groups organize, label and store their parts and builds still in progress.
  3. Collect notes and team storage box with kits.

* 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?)


Assessing Understanding (5-10% of class time)

  1. Review student graphic artifact (drawings). Are all the Piper computer parts included? Put sticky notes on drawings asking questions about missing parts and to correct misconceptions.
  2. 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.

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)