One of my pet projects is using toys to illustrate and improve technical theatre skills. Who doesn't like to learn and play at the same time. I use Legos when I teach drafting, and am working with Knex for rigging and automation prototyping. And I really like that you can now use them together. One of these days I will bit the bullet and buy some mindstorms...
Soon (hopefully releasing in dec 2008) is RoBlocks.
They are magnetic blocks that include actuators and sensors and such. Seems like a cool idea.
My general idea is to start to get into ways that automation can be taught in a hands-on manner without having to use pre-built unit (thus assembling and not inventing), and without taking load of time and money. I believe that with the way that robotics is advancing, that we should be able to start learning programming in the class-room to the extent that it will be used in a project, but in a scale that can be done as a lab.