Innovate and Create: Sixth Graders Explore Digital Coding and Physical Fabrication

This week the Mount Madonna School (MMS) sixth grade Technology, Engineering and Art (TEA) class became the first group to use a cutting-edge computer platform called Piper. Piper kits combine physical fabrication and engineering with digital coding to encourage engineering skills, computer skills and creative design. Students form collaborative groups and build their own computers, then complete coding, fabrication and design challenges using their prototypes.
The system was created by scientist Shree Bose, who wanted STEM classes to be more engaging for diverse students. Piper education platforms build confidence and allow students to explore, create and make mistakes as they go. Students take several sessions to follow a blueprint allowing them to build and power-up a computer, then they work between the physical and digital engineering worlds. Each student-built computer uses a Raspberry Pi (a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in association with Broadcom) and has firmware allowing the students to learn the process of computer engineering step by step, then move on to creative coding and making.
MMS has ten Piper kits for use during the 2022-23 school year, and the kits will be deployed in third through eighth grade TEA classes this semester.
Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,
Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.

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