My husband makes his living as a software engineer. He really enjoys the challenge of it and has learned and certified in various programming languages. As we were reviewing the AP tests we'd like the kids to take, he remembered the Computer Science one, reviewed it and found that it is mostly JAVA which he knows well and he got excited about sharing with the kids what he does for a living. So we bit the bullet and bought a Mac Mini computer so that the kids can learn how to program and develop software. We chose the Mac because it will always work and the controls are really easy to use and make it much harder for little fingers to mess up the environments or settings on accident.
He did some research and found this great program that teaches programming to kids:
The kids have absolutely loved it so far. Their first assignment was to make a short game where a good guy follows wherever the mouse points and a bad guy follows him and the good guy makes a sound whenever the bad guy touches him. Their next assignment is to make a short 2-player game. It is fun to see them all so interested in programming and putting some of that attraction to screens to good use.
It is really fun to have older kids able to start doing really interesting things. It just keeps getting better!