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FWIW, I had the first generation Mindstorms and I definitely consider it the most important factor in getting me interested in engineering and software.

Resale on LEGO is good, so if it works out and gets the kids interested, it's a small price to pay to introduce them to logic and mechanical concepts (make sure you don't lose any pieces). If it doesn't work out, sell them and take a small hit - it's really a win-win in my book.

I had basically the same experience.

It would be really hard to beat the LEGO Mindstorms experience for ease-of-use and learning through experimentation.

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