Although there have been many websites and campaigns dedicated to encouraging kids to learn and embrace computer coding and hopefully strengthen the IT field of the future, a low-cost computer called the pi-topCEED may be the device that really turns intention into action.
Designed for people as young as 6 years old, the coding computer looks more like a tablet. It boasts a 13.3-inch LCD screen, and works with any keyboard and mouse that has a USB port. Despite the sleek design, the computer offers plenty of functionality for any budding computer science enthusiast. In addition to teaching coding, the pi-topCEED allows users to learn how to build hardware, including robots and controllers. Those devices can then be made tangible with the help of 3D printers and an included software title called 3D Slash.
The computer is ready to go out of the box and contains a platform that endeavors to make coding and related subjects fun. Built like a multiplayer game, the platform blends a fantasy world with the principles of coding. Furthermore, users shouldn’t have to worry about complicated software updates once they’ve been using the pi-topCEED for a while. This modular desktop features a Pi-top operating system that’s based on Raspbian and is easy to update as needed.
A Noble Cause
Unlike many products on the market, this computer’s cause is not just to boost profits for its manufacturers. The pi-topCEED was released by a London-based organization called Entrepreneur First. The goal of that group is to create tech-based products that are so accessible anyone can learn about the inner workings of technology firsthand. A similar project from Entrepreneur First captured headlines last year. It was a kit that allowed people to build laptop computers with full functionality.
The IT industry doesn’t traditionally have such a low barrier to entry. For example, secondary network hardware is a $5 billion market, appealing to network administrators who want to help their respective workplaces save money when keeping the networks running smoothly.
However, the extremely reasonable rate of the pi-topCEED could mean interested buyers never have to let finances become a factor that may discourage them from purchasing it. Even kids on a modest weekly allowance they get for doing chores around the house could feasibly save up for the computer.
Keep the Momentum Going
The pi-topCEED is being offered through a crowdfunding campaign. Besides making a contribution to ultimately get a computer, a backer could also take advantage of a buy one, get one program, whereby an additional contribution of $50 buys another pi-topCEED for a disadvantaged kid. So, if a well-intentioned mom wants to buy the computer for her son who’s always been curious about the way his favorite software titles are made, she could also pitch in a bit extra to give another young person a pi-topCEED. This action may help a mere interest eventually transform into a profitable career during the person’s adulthood.
In the best outcome, Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton would like to see the pi-topCEED in every classroom. For now though, the aim is to distribute at least 1,000 of the computers throughout next year to charities devoted to educating children.
There are now more than 1,000 people who have backed the crowdfunded campaign for the pi-topCEED, meaning the project has ballooned over its initial $50,000 goal. Only time will tell whether the computer truly helps kids see coding as cool, but the pi-topCEED undoubtedly takes a huge leap in the right direction.
Advertised as a computer “anyone can use,” the pi-topCEED may be one of the relatively few products that lives up to the promises in the marketing materials. Thanks to the low price, not to mention the user-friendly design and robust capabilities, this computer seems poised to improve the future of coding for the better, forever.
YouTube: pi-topCEED, the world’s first $99 Raspberry Pi desktop!
Photo credit: pi-top
Kayla Mathews is a writer and blogger with a passion for technology and gadgets. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to get updates on all of her latest posts.