The Raspberry Pi was created when a group of professors at Cambridge University became concerned that students entering the university lacked the programming skills that students a generation ago had.
Part of the problem is that school curriculums have been co-opted into teaching Word and Excel instead of programming skills, and expensive, proprietary game consoles have replaced the previous generation of hackable game consoles that students would normally have learnt to program on.The Raspberry Pi costs $35 and can be plugged into a television. It is not as powerful as a modern laptop or desktop, but it is more powerful than a $15-million dollar supercomputer from the mid eighties and can be used to do some pretty cool things - it has been used to run experiments on the International Space Station, It has been turned into a mobile phone and it has been used as an high-end synth.
At Impulse Labs we use the Pi in a number of different ways in order to make students familiar with its possibilities. Students learn about the different parts of a computer, they learn how to install and modify the operating system, they learn basic programming to control pixels on the screen as well as to control electronics, and they use it to hack games such as Minecraft.