For technology start up Piper, having kids build a basic computer from scratch is not enough. The company's founders actually want to show kids how to upgrade the unit themselves, and in the process immerse them in the basics of science, math and technology.
The brainchild of co-founders Mark Pavlyukovskyy and Joel Sadler, the Piper Computer Kit includes all the components a budding electrical engineer needs, including a display, breadboard, switches, mouse and a heavily customized edition of popular video game "Minecraft." At its heart is the low-cost Raspberry Pi, a basic credit card-sized computer designed with students in mind.
To create a friendly computer, Piper enclosed the computer in a handcrafted wooden box that echoes a laptop when opened.
"That was important to have the user feel like they understood the parts of the system, to feel something that was a little more rough, a little more natural and more friendly," Sadler — a former Apple engineer with a doctorate from Stanford — told CNBC in a recent telephone interview.