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Power to the People

Enthusiastic coders and hackers are starting to pay it forward, by ­building kits to help ­beginners achieve computing ­literacy. These three sets mark a growing DIY movement that has ­nothing to do with crafts stores.

Power to the People
[Photo by Greg Broom]

1. Technology Will Save Us DIY Gamer Kit
The DIY Gamer Kit asks players to construct their own Game Boy–size ­console before they can (once again) get addicted to Snake. Ambitious ­users can hack together more sophisticated games, and then wirelessly connect and compete with fellow gamers. ($80)

Click to expand

2. Kano DIY Computer Kit

With this build-your-own computer—which cofounder Alex Klein calls "as intuitive as a Lego set"—Kano wants to demystify the inner workings of our favorite gadgets. Once assembled, Kano syncs with a monitor or TV screen, and a dead-simple ­manual gets kids coding ­software. ($99)

3. LittleBits Synth Kit

LittleBits first launched with a kit that taught kids basic electronics. Now it's expanding, with this music-making Synth Kit that uses magnets—not cords—to create instruments. Magnets make it easy to swap out pieces and replace sounds in just seconds, so "there are very few opportunities to make a mistake," says the company's product manager, Paul Rothman. ($159)

A version of this article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.