Educator Preparation and Tips – Piper


Tips and Tricks

Using a new tool can be intimidating. We're here to help, so check out our quick guide to using Piper.

Best Practices

Help ensure maximum learning and engagement for your students with these practices.

5E Education Model

Use lesson plans designed to engage more students with an enduring understanding in STEAM.

Measuring Impact

Assess growth in problem solving, critical thinking, computer science, and collaboration.

Piper's lesson plan construction is based on the 5E instructional model. If this is your first time teaching with this model, you will find it to be different than traditional teaching methods. It is rewarding to see student-centered learning in action and this model has been proven to lead towards greater student engagement and enduring understanding in STEAM.


Before You Start
  • Build and play yourself first!  The best way to support your students is understand the process. Try building the Piper computer ahead of time, working through Minecraft: Raspberry Pi Edition with StoryMode, and try out projects in PiperCode!

  • Do your updates! If your kits have been sitting around for a while, make sure you have Updated the Game Software for the most updated StoryMode and PiperCode software.
  • Before turning on any Piper computer, you need to charge the Piper batteries. You should also make it a habit to charge batteries between every lesson! Check out this Piper Support Charging the Battery page.
Support As You Go
  • If you don’t hear sound, you will need to charge the Piper speakers! Check out this Piper Support Charging the Speaker page.

  • During Phase 1: Build lessons, you can have a built Piper available for reference. Watch the Piper Support Piper Assembly Video or have this playing in the background.
  • If your learners build the kit and turn on the battery, but the screen is black, there’s some common missed steps - check out the Piper Support My Screen is not Working page.
  • If your screen is built correctly, but the game still isn’t booting up, it’s usually that the SD card is not installed correctly - check out the Piper Support The Game is not Booting Up page for more info.
  • We lost some screws! Accidentally broke a part! If you bought a Piper Classroom bundle, you have extra parts in your spare parts kit! If not, contact Piper Customer Service by emailing Or order replacement parts here.
  • Serve your English Language Learners! - Piper Story Mode comes in English, Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, French, and Japanese. To choose the language, go into the game's settings menu and select the language option. Read more on Piper Support What Languages does Piper support? Page.
  • Confused about moving around inside Minecraft or Piper Story Mode levels? - Ask one of your learners who’s a Minecraft enthusiast to give you a tour! Or check out the New to Minecraft? 5 Functions to Know section of this document.


Dr. Joel Sadler, Piper co-founder, received his PhD from Stanford where he wrote his thesis on “The Anatomy of Creative Computing: Enabling Novices to Prototype Smart Devices." In the thesis, Joel came up with a pre/post survey to measure confidence change around novices creating technology. The surveys allow you to see student growth following the Piper computer kit experience. (Want to see Joel’s thesis? Click here.)

Pre/Post Student Creative Confidence Survey:

Print out the Piperbot Pre-Survey and have students complete BEFORE starting the Piper program. File these completed Pre-Surveys.

Print out the Piperbot Post-Survey and have the students complete AFTER the Piper program is completed.

Compile both the completed pre and post surveys and use the similar questions to see growth in your students’ confidence.


If you are using Piper on a school or district level, we will provide you with electronic Student Engagement Surveys to fill out before and after your students’ experience with the Piper computer kit. The survey instrument was created in conjunction with UChicago Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education UCLA CRESST and has previously been used by Exploring Computer Science in their efficacy studies. These electronic surveys will be distributed during Teacher Training and analyzed for you by Piper. The creative confidence surveys described above are solely for personal use.



Each lesson includes several assessment tools in the Explain and Evaluation sections. The assessments are aligned to the objectives of the lesson which are derived from the standards listed at the beginning of each phase. Google Forms are also available for each Summative Assessment and can be used as an exit survey for the lesson. Assessment tools are included in the Appendix.


We want you to be successful using Piper in the classroom. To do that, we suggest using these practices to help ensure maximum learning and engagement for your students.

Educator Preparation and Tips


While the Piper Computer Kit experience works in a 1:1 model, it a better learning experience for students in collaborative groups. We recommend a 2:1 approach but have seen successful 3:1 or 4:1 models as long as students are given rotating roles. Collaboration empowers the students to solve problems together, build community and encourage agency in student leaders. A great practice to engage all of your learners is to have a student share a challenge in they overcame during the Piper learning experience during class discussions.

Educator Preparation and Tips


With Piper, guidance is embedded in StoryMode directions and PiperCode tutorials for an inquiry-based learning experience. We recommend facilitating the class rather then giving the students answers. Since challenge is a part of the Piper experience, it can help foster student development in perseverance. Developing a growth mindset is a vital part of the learning process with Piper. Students who make it through cognitive dissonance will ultimately build greater creative confidence. See if you can answer questions with questions to help guide the students to find the answers!

Educator Preparation and Tips


We have found success starting each session with a discussion and reinforcing expectations that Piper will be challenging, low-stakes failure will happen (that is OK and GOOD!), and understanding concepts is more important than speed.

Educator Preparation and Tips


We have found that teachers set up systems of organization for the class and encourage students to stay organized find it easier to start and end each day with the Piper program. When students are in a group, each person can have a specific task such as retrieving their storage box, plugging in the battery and turning on Piper, putting items back into the box, etc. Small electronic parts are easily lost (or stepped on) when they are not kept in a box and returned to the box after use. Explain that being organized is a necessary skill for all engineers to learn. If it seems to be a problem, have a discussion around it and ask students to share some of the things they do to keep organized.

Educator Preparation and Tips


Since the Piper computer program is student-centered, students are often challenged to explore and learn on their own with guidance rather than direct instruction. This leads to growth and development of grit in students from this productive struggle. Collaboration in these moments of dissonance also leads to greater learning outcomes and a positive classroom community.