Robots are interesting to children at a young age.
Many of the robot kits available on Kickstarter and the like do not have much in the way of making the robot but only programming itself. To start into robots, creating a BEAM robot (without programming) might be a good/better approach.
Some people endorse lego mindstorms as a good starter project. Seems a bit expensive and closed.
See How to start with robotics:
- Mechatronics (integration of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering)
- Robotics (transformations of three dimensional coordinates)
- Programming in C
- Control systems
- Computer vision / image processing
Also more specific programming courses in machine learning, path navigation, etc.