The pixelated, building world of Minecraft has kids all over slaving for hours creating crazy structures and machines with seemingly no purpose other than to spew newly spawn block people into a pit of lava.
However, Piper, a company founded by Mark Pavlyukovskyy, is hoping to turn all that misdirected manic world-building creativity into something more worthwhile. When Pavlyukovskiyy met Shree Bose and Joel Sadler, they formed a toolbox that teaches kids how to build their own real-life circuit boards using a good old Raspberry Pi and Minecraft.
The Piper kit comes will all the electronics needed to build everything from scratch. Moreover, just like Minecraft and Lego-building, you can choose to follow a step-by-step manual, or just go at it and let your creativity go wild with endless possibilities in electricity and circuits.
The Piper team has uploaded a video to explain exactly how Piper works. It is absolutely ingenious in how it combines virtual design with real-world circuitry.
Not only are thousands of parents backing up this project for their budding engineers, but Steve Wozniak has also voiced his support for the startup.
"I love Piper because it represents what enabled me to do all the great technology things in my life," he told the Piper team in an email.
Another computer gaming great, Al Alcorn, inventor of Pong and cofounder of Atari, also visited the Piper team to tell them that he thinks their kit is a great way to get kids into engineering and inventing.
"Piper is a way to get more kids to become inventors and engineers by letting them tinker and build with technology," he said.
So don't ban your kids from playing Minecraft. Get them to harness all that creative energy to learn about circuit boards instead.