1. Kano: a $150 kit to build your own computer. Kano ships you a beautiful package with a Raspberry Pi, a case, a small speaker, a keyboard with trackpad, and a WiFi module. Using Pi’s linux operating system, you can download existing games, or build your own.
2. littleBits – a library of magnetic electronic blocks that allow you to create and invent. littleBits is an ever-growing library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets so you can invent anything without the need to solder or connect wires. LittleBits’ library has 60 modules, including temperature sensors, microphones, buttons, motors and many more.
3. arduino is an open-source electronics platform that provides the raw material for anyone making interactive projects. At MIT, several of my friends used arduinos to prototype their solution. After teaching at MIT’s medialab India Design Initiative, I was so interested that I bought an arduino as part of a SparkFun kit. I used the kit to build several designs, and then I created my own thermostat. It wasn’t connected to my heating system, but the output (a light) would switch on if the boiler had to switch on.
Do you want to understand the basics of computers? Get Danny Hillis’ terrific book “The Pattern on the Stone”. The book details through clear examples how computers work, without going into unnecessary details and all the time nurturing curiosity.