My start was largely on my own, in electronics and then amateur radio. As a little kid, I watched a service man come to our hose and pull out the chassis of our TV to fix it. As I looked at the maze of little components and wires, I thought to myself, "I could never do that."
Before long, I was fixing radios and TVs for friends. By junior high, I had built a shortwave receiver and my stereo amplifier from kits. I used that Eico ST70 amplifier for decades! I built transmitters and a power supply for a surplus aircraft transmitter and loved ham radio for years before getting my BS in EE and a career in computer programming.
I bought Turbo Pascal for my IBM PC (with a whopping 20MB of hard disk!). I got my son hooked on it. He never slowed down, attending CMU including robotics and Virtual Reality. He worked for a company on what became Google Earth, and is at Google now, having the time of his life.
If you have kids who might be interested in things like that, a robotics kit is a really good way to get them hooked before they get discouraged. It's very easy to get early success making a computer do things you can actually watch happen. It instills very early the engineering mindset: doing stuff to make things and to make things happen.
When a good mind becomes intrigued by something, you never know where it will lead!