When I was in middle school (which, for me, ran from sixth to eighth grade), every sixth grader was required to take an “exploratory” class as an elective. Which, you know, required elective. Very funny, right?
Anyway: this exploratory class covered the four main classes that could be taken as electives as a seventh- and eighth-grader. You had one quarter each in basic (not BASIC) computer programming, tech ed (shop class), art, and home ec. As far as such things go, this was a pretty effective way of exposing kids to the choices available to them.