Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Baby, You're the Greatest!

Spent most of this morning working on Alice. The image you see is from the classic FirstEncounter scene that is used in the Learning to Program with Alice book.

What's so cool about Alice is how advanced you can make your programs become. Rather than merely doing the scene as asked for in the text, I introduced for loops and turned the robots motion into a much more complex and realistic set of instructions. [He now lifts up his back middle leg, walks on his other four legs, then lowers the back middle leg down for support after walking.] That would not have been easy to do without Alice's awesome interface, which lets you click, drag, and drop various methods of the various objects. Oh, and I added the penguin just as a shout out to Tux.

Last year I used Alice while teaching the IMP Math unit All About Alice, which teaches students exponential functions. It was remarkably easy to have my students program the examples from the text into scenes using Alice, so that when Alice doubled here size ten times in a row, students got to see just how big that would make her.

Alice is a free gift from Carnegie Mellon University. If you haven't played around with it yet, give it a try.

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