My name is Jim Julian (one of many). I have a degree in Psychology and minored in Electronic Engineering. I've been 'playing' with computers for over thirty years. I learned digital cartography from the ESRI Arcviiew 3.2 GIS program suite and the Matlab mathematics laboratory in the mid-2000s, Digital photography, HDR (High Dynamic Range) in the late 90s-early 2000s.
My first computer was a Texas Instruments TI/99A, though my TI-59 calculator had more power and flexibility, as well as a printer.
I use the Raspberry Pi 3B/+ to monitor and control a solar panel array. I collect daily data and graph the results on a webpage administered the Apache browser on the Pi. There are four relays wired as DPDT switches to run a linear actuator in forward and reverse directions. There is a small sensor constructed of small solar cells to determine the direction of the sun. The data from this sensor is compared to data calculations derived from a NOAA spreadsheet. The impacting energy is calculated using equations from pveducation.org's Solar Radiation on a Tilted Surface. Services and timers determine what runs and when. This way, the operation is ketp within daylight hours. I may eventually add one or more analog-to-digital converters, a weather hat, and a GPIO expansion. I already have a Real Time Clock (RTC).
While the event is unlikely, I think a Raspbian virtual machine for desktop and laptop computers running other operating systems, would be a good idea.
I think a small computer for kids to tinker, play, study, or 'fool around' with is a good idea. The cost of failure is small and the rewards of suucess are high.
Best wishes and Good Luck,