For some learning styles, hands on tinkering can help demystify computers and coding. There are a variety of resources out there, including a number of kits.
Experience Level vs Age Range
I suggest ignoring the age rating on electronics kits, and instead, locate whatever works for your experience level. When product designers and writers are forced to write for a younger audience, it ends up avoiding a blind spot of so-called "adult learning": making assumptions and not giving enough context. As a professor who has been studying artificial intelligence curriculum and various approaches to teach math and coding to adults, I'm struck by how abstract many courses and resources can be. A lot of assumptions are made; providing a more gradual alternative is part of the reason I created this site.
So when I was looking for hands-on resources to learn a bit more about what powers computers, I immediately noticed how a good starting point for me (a PhD, age unimportant), was a kit that was ostensibly designed for kids. Is there such thing as too easy?
Answer: the kit is fun, cool, and exactly the kind of simplicity that I think can help any age to learn.
Unboxing. I like how the box is designed, with a portable tray, and informative graphics on the packaging. The learning guide has several maps and graphics, and the narrative is friendly, allowing you to start simply.
One of the first things you do is to use a "solderless breadboard" (on the left), and connect power to it. Simple enough to do, a few good steps in confirming terms and knowledge you might have, filling in the gaps.
Then you get to take actual electronic components and work with them. Electricity seems kind of like plumbing to me, where there is a flow of electrons, and by working with the kit you can start to see how electricity flows on a particular path:
a resistor: this is the smaller component in the picture, and it adjusts the current to make sure it isn't too much for the LED.
an LED, or light emitting diode: then the electricity flows through the LED
Turn on the switch, and voila! The circuit is completed.
It's simple, but satisfying.
And it helps you to get a sense of a small microcosm - definitely demystifies things, and it's fun.
Then you can proceed, with narrative explanations and gradually more parts, and learn about each.
Very cool. I think it's a good investment.
Available at www.sparklelabs.com - and if you're economizing, you may be able to find a used set on ebay