An anonymous reader writes "So, it's that wonderful time of year again. Instead of buying the latest, greatest whiz-bang, overpriced fad toy of the year, I thought I might try my hand at corrupting my nieces (ages 12 and 14) in a nerdier direction with some sort of introductory robotics kit. They have no programming experience, and part of my idea is that it would be encouraging for them to see interactions of their code that they write with the real-world by being able to control some actuators and read sensors. The first thing that comes to mind is Lego Mindstorms, but I find them a bit on the pricey side of things. My budget falls between $40 and $100, and the ideal kit would focus more on the software side than on soldering together circuits. I'd be looking for a kit that provides an easy to learn API and development tools that will work with a standard Windows PC. I don't mind spending a few afternoons helping them out with the basics, but I'd like for them to be able to be able to explore on their own after grasping the initial concepts. Has anybody gotten their younger relations into programming through robotics, and what kits might you recommend?"