When I was a kid, I had a book called the Young Naturalist, or something like it. Published probably sometime in the mid-80s. It was full of nature activities: building a bat house, setting up a freshwater aquarium with fauna from your local creek, how to distinguish and identify bird calls, that sort of thing.
Towards the end of the book, there was a chapter on computer-aided nature observation. The book claimed that if you had a microcomputer, with a little BASIC know-how and a little bit of math, you could get the computer to do things like predict what birds were around in a given time of year based on your bird-call observations. At the time we had a Packard Bell Windows 3.1 machine, and I really wanted to be able to do this, and I was just crushed that apparently computers don't come with BASIC anymore. I eventually settled on using some kind of spreadsheet software.
But I never forgot the feeling of power I had when I learned that with a handful of commands and some math I could get a computer to do anything. My rural community had a local access number by the time I hit middle school, and I learned after some AltaVista-ing that Windows (or MS-DOS, really) had qbasic all along. So I finally got to write my bird observation program.
Mostly I wanted to tell this story. But also, I feel like a lot of kids just aren't exposed to the notion that the computer is something other than a Facebook and games machine. A lot of kids probably think "computer programmer" is up there with "rocket scientist," when it used to be the case that any 12-year-old with a microcomputer had to learn a little programming to get a computer to do anything outside of running purchased software.
I don't know enough to advocate programming classes for kids, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to make programming more accessible. I wish Microsoft or Apple would include a "hey kids, make the computer do anything you want!" entry in a menu somewhere.