We love some good LED blinking as much as the next person but after years of LED-soldering we need something cooler to get us excited. Sure there are RGB LEDs and those are fun too but what comes after that? Well, we have the answer: LED Strips! These are flexible circuit boards with full color LEDs soldered on. They take a lot of LED-wiring-drudgery out of decorating a room, car, bicycle, costume, etc. Here is a quick tutorial on how to get an LED strip working with an Arduino.
Arduino is a great starting point for electronics, and with a motor shield it can also be a nice tidy platform for robotics and mechatronics. Here is a design for a full-featured motor shield that will be able to power many simple to medium-complexity projects. Build the kit, and learn how to use it with these detailed instructions.