in reply to Teaching The New Generation
As an adult I've been unable to resist the similarly cool Lego Mindstorms. Although I haven't had much time to play with this, I can say that it's definitely a high-quality kit. For example, the infrared interface is about 100% more reliable than the one in my laptop. It comes with a point-and-click interface for programming, but you can dump that and use Perl instead (haven't had time to try this yet myself).
Anyway, I had a point (I think). This sort of simple hardware started me off on programming because of the very tangible results, e.g. the project can be to have the robot follow a white line on the floor, or try and trip people up. Depends on the kid of course.