Why kids should be taught to build computers

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Teaching kids how to code is a key part of raising IT awareness. In Sri Lanka for example, we have a formidable force of software developers who are proficient in their work. But few rarely know how to repair a PC by themselves when it fails. This is why kids should be taught how to build a PC.

Building a PC is child’s play. Or is it?

Kano Computing recently introduced the Kano PC. It’s essentially a DIY touchscreen laptop that runs Windows 10 S. It packs a 1.44GHz Intel Atom quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 64 of internal storage and expandable storage via a MicroSD card. It also has all the other bells and whistles such as an HDMI Port, a headphone and microphone jack, and dual USB ports. In addition, it also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connecting to the internet and mobile hotspots.

Kano PC
The Kano PC is Kano’s way of teaching kids how to build their own touchscreen laptop (Image Credits: TechSpot

Since the Kano PC runs Windows 10 S, it can only install apps from the Microsoft store. While this would seemingly limit what you can install on the Kano PC, it’s important to understand that the Kano PC is aimed at children who have no knowledge of computers. So this is actually a really good way to introduce kids to computing.

Kano PC
The Kano PC packs a modular design so kids can take it apart and put it back together (Image Credits: The Verge)

It also got us thinking if initiatives like the Kano PC are seen in the US, why aren’t there similar programs or initiatives in Sri Lanka?

Building A PC has a lot to be considered

At a price of $299, the Kano PC is not cheap. But then again, neither is buying a laptop or tablet for your child. On the other hand, teaching your kid to build their own PC is something that money cannot buy.

However, Building an actual PC has a lot more going for it. You first need to figure out what you’re going to be using the PC for. From there, you need to select components such as the CPU, RAM, GPU and even storage options and compare the various brands and models.

Kano PC
Building a PC is easy as long as you know your way around one (Image Credits: The Tech Report)

This is to ensure that you get what you get your money’s worth. There’s no point in building a PC that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars if all you’re going to be doing is sending emails and binging Netflix.

While the Kano PC kit may be expensive to bring down to emerging markets such as Sri Lanka, we don’t really need to go that far. Schools across the country now have their own computer labs. These labs can be used to teach kids how to take a part a PC, look at all the components and put it back together again. The challenge here of course is that not every school has a computer lab.

We need to teach kids about computers

Perhaps the biggest question that we ask is, “Are kids in school taught how to build a PC in the first place?” If not, then why aren’t they? They’re taught the basics of coding and then go on from there, but few kids actually know how to build a PC and what each of the components in a PC or laptop do. Perhaps even fewer of them know the difference between the different models of hardware (SSDs vs Hard drives, etc.) to make a well informed decision.

Kano PC
Teaching kids about how a computer works in terms of hardware is equally important as teaching them about problem solving using code (Image Credits: Hello Ruby)

I remember when I first took apart my own computer and put it back together, I was extremely smug about it. From there, I spent time helping people build their dream PCs. It wasn’t always happy though. I have had enough experiences with people who took home components to build a PC and ended up damaging the components.

Kano PC
Recycling plants and E-Waste junkyards are a really good place to get an old PC to take apart and teach kids about them (Image Credits: CompuCycle)

So while products like the Kano PC are indeed a step in the right direction, Sri Lanka or any other emerging market doesn’t really have to go that far to teach kids about computers. Banks and other organizations for example, discard their PCs when they are obsolete.

The only catch is that they usually destroy the storage drives so as to keep their data safe. But on the other hand, these make the ideal candidate as test subjects to teach kids to take them apart and see how they work.

Buying old pre-used systems is another good way to teach kids about computers. This comes in handy if you want to teach them about different platforms (Intel vs AMD) or the different generations of motherboards and how they’ve changed over the years.

If all that fails, you can even learn to build your own PC with PC Building Simulator. We took a look at it back when it was launched in April last year. Over time, it has been updated and how has more or less every component that is commercially available as a simulation as well.

Kano PC
PC Building Simulator offers users to build the PC of their dreams and also diagnose and troubleshoot issues with PCs (Image Credits: Gigazine)

So in short, the Kano PC is a nice piece of tech to introduce kids to building a touchscreen PC. In addition, it also teaches kids about computing and coding is a step in the right direction to increase IT awareness. At the same time, it’s also important to ensure that kids or even adults have a sound understanding of the hardware aspect in a PC or laptop so that they can tinker around with it and teach others about it as well.

Do you know how to build a PC? What do you think of the Kano PC? We would love to hear from you.

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