Raspberry Pi 3 Desktop a 7-yr-old Can Build & Use

Teach programming, electronics, and mechanics with the Kano Computer and Snap Circuits.

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The Kano computer is designed to “to give young people – and the young at heart – a simple, fun way to make and play with technology, and take control of the world around them.” Snap Circuits can help young learners who might find breadboard and electronics a bit to fiddly. We are starting to see an alarming decline of science literacy in the United States. Learning electronics and programming my not guarantee science literacy but they can set a person on the path toward critical thinking. In this project I'll build a Laser oscilloscope using the Kano Computer and screen, the Snap Circuits Motion set, Audacity, and Scratch to each programming, electronics, and mechanics.

Follow me on Twitter: @SteveSchuler20 and right here on Hackaday: KRA5H

Alarming Decline in Science Literacy

We are starting to see an alarming decline of science literacy in the United States. The US continues to be the most scientifically and technologically advanced nation on earth and continues to lead the world in science and technology output. But as Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, observes:

“It’s certainly true that U.S.-based scientists continue to walk off with plenty of Nobel Prizes each year. But Nobel winners are old men. The future belongs not to them but to today’s teenagers....Every three years the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment tests the educational attainment of 15-year-olds around the world. The latest data on “mathematical literacy” reveal that the gap between the world leaders—the students of Shanghai and Singapore—and their American counterparts is now as big as the gap between U.S. kids and teenagers in Albania and Tunisia." Source

China is catching up to the United States according to the National Science Foundation. Nonetheless, though we have a number of serious issues we must confront such as global warming, we do have immediately pressing issues such as confronting anti-science movements like anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, and chemophobia (think Vani Hari a.k.a. “The Food Babe”).

Lack of science literacy causes fear of GMOs, yet the lives of 2.7 million children could be saved with Golden Rice.

Because of the lack of science literacy, people believe the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism (it does not). Measles was wiped out in the United States by the year 2000, but “we had 644 cases in 27 states in 2014, the most in 20 years.

With the impending public health threat of the Zika virus disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and can be spread by the Aedes albopictus mosquito as far north as the Great Lakes, it may be necessary to use the insecticide DDT. That’s right, DDT. It was banned in 1972 due to pressure from environmentalists based on bad science even though it is safe to use as an insecticide. Millions have died (mostly children in Africa) from Malaria. According to Marc Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, “The ban on DDT may have killed 20 million children.” DDT is not carcinogenic nor toxic and can be consumed in significant amounts with no ill effects (if you don’t wash your vegetables before you eat them—you should wash them considering how many dirty hands have handled them before reaching your kitchen…ewww!). Of course, the scientifically illiterate chemophobes will intransigently parrot Vani Hari, “there is no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest ever.”

Immunizations, food security, and mosquito control are immediately pressing issues that can save millions of lives globally. Science literacy is the best defense against cranks, charlatans, and pseudoscientific demagogues.

Information Wants to Be Free

So much scientific research is locked up behind paywalls even when that research was paid for with public funds.

There is so much competition for public grants among scientists that they seem to only want pursue research that is "sexy" and likely to published in the most prestigious of journals--even when that research is flawed and sometimes dangerously fraudulent. Andrew Wakefield's MMR autism study was published in The Lancet in 1998 and was retracted in 2010 but to this day people still believe the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism.

There is a growing citizen scientist (amateur scientist) movement spawned from the maker movement that is similar to the Gentleman and Lady scientists that preceded the Age of Enlightenment and before the professionalization of science. Citizen scientists are doing research that often rivals professional scientists and publishing...

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  • 1 × Raspberry Pi 3 (Kano Computer kit)
  • 1 × Wireless keyboard (Kano Computer kit)
  • 1 × Speaker module (Kano Computer kit)
  • 1 × Custom case (Kano Computer kit)
  • 1 × USB power supply (Kano Computer kit)

View all 32 components

  • Tested Running Audacity and Scratch

    Steve Schuler07/08/2016 at 15:09 2 comments

    So I had a few minutes this morning to boot up the Kano and I was able to run Audacity to generate a sign wave tone AND run Scratch to speed up or slow down the Snap Circuits Geared Motor circuit. YAY! This project is developing quickly into a tool for the science of sound--you can look at the sine wave form, for instance, on the Kano screen in Audacity and then watch the sine wave on the laser oscilloscope target screen.

    A laser oscilloscope is just one of many ways to visualize sound--my project combines a computer (Kano), electronics and mechanics (Snap Circuits Motion set parts), and friggin' laser beams (cat toy laser pointer) as a simple way to visualize sound to ttech the science of sound. Here's a rather interesting TED talk with some clever sound visualization methods:

  • Installed Audacity and Added Boom Tunes Speaker For Testing

    Steve Schuler07/05/2016 at 17:26 0 comments

    I decided to install Audacity on the Kano Computer because among its many uses, it is a tone generator (sine waves, square waves, and saw waves). I also connected up my Boom tunes speaker to test the tones for the Laser Oscilloscope project.

  • Tested Snap Circuits Geared Motor

    Steve Schuler07/05/2016 at 12:22 0 comments

    Over the 4th of July weekend I was able to drive the Snap Circuits Geared Motor using the Using the Variable Speed Fan Circuits (see:

  • Able to Flash Snap Circuits LED Using Scratch on the Kano Computer

    Steve Schuler06/27/2016 at 19:14 0 comments

    Over the weekend I was able to flash a Snap Circuits LED using Scratch on the Kano computer without having to install any additional software. According to, "the September 2015 release of Scratch for the Pi, included in the Raspbian Jessie release, introduces a new GPIO server to make driving LEDs, buzzers, HATS and other devices and components easier."


    I used my Snap Circuits to header pin conversion cable:

    I connected black-red to pin 7 (GPIO 4) and black-black to pin 9 (Ground).

    RPi2 Pin Header

    Picture source:

    Simply boot up the Kano Computer and go to scratch:

    Click Edit > Start GPIO Server:

    The Scratch program to flash the Snap Circuits LED is very simple:

  • Request for project ideas for "Raspberry Pi 3 Desktop a 7-yr-old Can Build & Use"

    Steve Schuler06/24/2016 at 13:05 0 comments

    This project log is intended as a request for comments--project ideas--for my project "Raspberry Pi 3 Desktop a 7-yr-old Can Build & Use." See below for more details.

    The postulated audience for this project are parents who are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workers, K-12 educators, post-secondary educators, homeschoolers, DIYers/Makers/Hardware Hackers, and parents with children in youth groups such Scouts, 4-H, FFA, etc.

    The Kano Computer is recommended for ages seven and older (actually now the website suggests age 6 or older). Snap Circuits is recommended for ages eight and older. Of course it would be up to parents to determine if it is appropriate for younger children.

    I have three years experience as an adult educator, but have no training or experience in K-12 education.

    I've searched for 3rd grade science fair winners and it would seem the projects I've created so far for Raspberry Pi and Snap Circuits so far should be appropriate for third graders:

    Flash a Snap Circuits LED ("Pi Day Project 2016")

    Variable speed fan:

    Control a Snap Circuits Relay with the Kano Computer:

    And finally, LaserOscope:

    For my "Raspberry Pi 3 Desktop a 7-yr-old Can Build & Use" I'm considering using the Kano computer to drive the Snap Circuits Geared motor (to vary the speed of the Snap Circuits geared motor) in my LaserOscope II project:

    This weekend I hope to test Scratch that comes installed with the Kano computer to see if it will access the Raspberry Pi 3 GPIO pins. Maybe I'll have to update Scratch from the Kano website or install ScratchGPIO7 from Anyhoo, I'll push this project log up on the Hackadayio stack and I hope to get some feedback on which of the above projects I should use or suggestions for project ideas I haven't thought of.

  • Raspberry Pi Model B

    Steve Schuler06/23/2016 at 11:16 0 comments


    Processor Broadcom BCM2387 chipset. 1.2GHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A53 802.11 b/g/n Wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1 (Bluetooth Classic and LE)

    GPU Dual Core VideoCore IV® Multimedia Co-Processor. Provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode. Capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24GFLOPs with texture filtering and DMA infrastructure

    Memory 1GB LPDDR2

    Operating System Boots from Micro SD card, running a version of the Linux operating system or Windows 10 IoT

    Dimensions 85 x 56 x 17mm

    Power Micro USB socket 5V1, 2.5A


    Ethernet 10/100 BaseT Ethernet socket

    Video Output HDMI (rev 1.3 & 1.4 Composite RCA (PAL and NTSC)

    Audio Output Audio Output 3.5mm jack, HDMI USB 4 x USB 2.0 Connector

    GPIO Connector 40-pin 2.54 mm (100 mil) expansion header: 2x20 strip Providing 27 GPIO pins as well as +3.3 V, +5 V and GND supply lines

    Camera Connector 15-pin MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI-2)

    Display Connector Display Serial Interface (DSI) 15 way flat flex cable connector with two data lanes and a clock lane

    Memory Card Slot Push/pull Micro SDIO


  • Kano Computer and Screen ​Kits Built, Now Need to Test Scratch GPIO

    Steve Schuler06/22/2016 at 20:58 0 comments

    With the Kano and Screen kits built, I've connected the Kano to wifi and downloaded the updates for the Kano OS. I'll have to test to see if Scratch GPIO is supported on the Kano computer. If not I've also downloaded scratchgpio7 and will install if necessary.

    Scratch GPIO instructions:

    Scratch GPIO 7:

  • Another Out of Box Experience (Kano Screen Kit UnBoxing)

    Steve Schuler06/22/2016 at 13:46 0 comments

  • Out of Box Experience (Kano Computer Kit UnBoxing)

    Steve Schuler06/21/2016 at 15:56 0 comments

  • Magic Blue Smoke

    Steve Schuler06/21/2016 at 14:56 0 comments

    As it says on my profile: "You may try my projects AT YOUR OWN RISK--there are infinite ways to damage or destroy people and property, I can't think of them all."

    If you accidentally let the magic blue smoke escape (and smell the accompanying burnt electrical malodor) your component most likely won't work anymore.

    When you hack something you’re probably using it in a way in which it was never intended to be used so, there is always a risk that things might not go the way you planned. I've lost count of the number of items that I have damaged beyond repair by connecting them up the wrong way or sending too much power through them. You will in all likelihood void the warranty of the item(s). If you cannot afford to replace the item(s) you probably ought not try the hack.

    Kids use adult supervision.

View all 16 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    Build the Kano Computer:

  • 2
    Step 2

    Build the Kano computer and screen

View all instructions

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Steve Schuler wrote 10/18/2016 at 13:00 point

Thanks, abdoulhaq.elhamri16 for liking my project!

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abdoulhaq.elhamri16 wrote 10/17/2016 at 19:10 point

this is so good very much 

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Steve Schuler wrote 07/18/2016 at 11:16 point

Thanks, Creatively, for liking my project

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Steve Schuler wrote 07/11/2016 at 12:58 point

Thanks, Hacker House, for liking my project!

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Steve Schuler wrote 06/29/2016 at 14:32 point

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