At the Grace Hopper Conference 2010 I attended a workshop on getting girls in grades 4-12 excited about computing, and 2 of the 4 technologies featured used robotics of some sort.
Scratch & Alice are programming languages, and allow students to make incredible animations (2D and 3D respectively) limited only by their imaginations.There are lots of programming challenges for students to participate in throughout the year to really flex their programming muscles.
Pico Cricket & Pleo Dinosaur kits were passed around for us to program and play with...total fun! During a meeting with my peer computer teachers I also learned about Pico Boards, which are like Pico Cricket connections but powered by Scratch...totally awesome...gotta get a few!!!
Then this article about a robotics lesson plan came in my e-mail and I now know that robotics are the next big thing in student computing. Of course it makes sense: artificial intelligence has remained behind the scenes in computing, we have a number of domestic robots (the vacuumers and floor cleaners, and toys) that make us more comfortable with independently operating machines. So the next wave of computers is to develop programmers who are comfortable and familiar with robotics. This means we technology teachers have to step our game up!