They say engineers make a lot of money. And they'll likely make a lot more, with electronics being as ubiquitous a part of our present and future lives. Why not get the young'uns started early with the LittleBits, an electronics dabbling kit for kids ages 8 and up.
Styled to work just like LEGOS, there's no soldering or wiring involved in constructing interactive projects with this set. Instead, all the pieces are magnetized, allowing you to combine them by simply snapping on and off.
LittleBits consist of 10 color-coded electronic pieces that you can combine and hook up to an included 9V battery unit. While complicated programmable systems is out of the question (this being a children's toy and all), you can come up with some cool stuff experimenting with the bits, which consist of a wall power, a button, a potentiometer, a pressure sensor, a pulse, a LED, an RGB LED, a vibration motor, a wire and a bargraph.
If you have a kid who likes taking apart stuff, this should make for more satisfying tinkering as they'll actually see the results of their creations quickly. Plus, this is way cheaper than having them take apart the flat toaster or the washing machine like they did last summer.
Thinkgeek has the LittleBit Kit available now, priced at $129.99.