I'd also recommend <a href="http://www.stagecast.com/" target="_blank">Stagecast Creator</a>. While appearing to be a very simplistic program, it's really a quite sophisticated IDE for a Java back end engine. I've had kids as young as 1st graders use the program successfully and yet I've written some very high level programs.
As an IT Administrator I can tell you it is getting very old constantly updating local computer based software programs. With Google leading the way with web based applications, there is a very bright future in web programming.
Of course you just can't beat the problem solving and discipline skills that are inherent in programming. But the best aspect is the immediate feedback programming gives you. No waiting for the test to be graded and returned, you know immediately whether you were successful or failed; another interesting feature - learning by failing.