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[Discuss] Gift for a 9-year-old engineer?

Any suggestions for a birthday present for a 9-year-old budding
software engineer?  My nephew has been writing programs on Scratch
(, a programming site for kids, and teaching himself
HTML and CSS. He also loves taking electronics apart and building
stuff, and he blogs about topics like Apple's phone encryption on his
own web site. The little guy has a true passion for this stuff.

I thought about getting him a Raspberry Pi kit, but I haven't used one
myself and don't know if he could get it working by himself. (His
parents have no background and I live 3000 miles away. Good idea or
not?) I also thought about this book:

but at age 9, maybe books aren't the most exciting gifts?

Last year, his choice of gift was "computer consulting hours with his
Uncle Dan" (me) by Skype. This year he says, "He can surprise me. I
trust Uncle Dan." Talk about pressure! :-)

His home computers are all Macs, if that matters.

Any tips appreciated. Thank you.

Dan Barrett
dbarrett at

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