Developed by those nice folks at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a visual programming language for kids.
The development environment reminds me a little of the Lego Mindstorms programming interface, where you can drag blocks around and attach them to create procedures. Instead of hacking robots, though, kids can use Scratch to create games, animations, art, and whatever else they have an inclination to build.
As young people create projects in Scratch, they learn many of the 21st century skills that will be critical to success in the future: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analyzing systematically, using technologies fluently, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively, learning continuously.
After you’ve created something, your masterpiece can be posted to the Scratch website for other kids to play and comment on. More importantly, kids can download and learn from the source code, which they can then apply to their own projects.
Check it out – it’s a social network for 8 year old open source hackers.