This week we are going to look at a much more robust programing environment called Alice. Alice was created at Carnegie Mellon University in the late 90’s as a way to inspire a generation of programers. The platform has evolved over time and is currently in its third version to be able to take advantage of the latest 3D object creation. So what is Alice specifically?
Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a freely available teaching tool designed to be a student’s first exposure to object-oriented programming. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects.
In Alice’s interactive interface, students drag and drop graphic tiles to create a program, where the instructions correspond to standard statements in a production oriented programming language, such as Java, C++, and C#. Alice allows students to immediately see how their animation programs run, enabling them to easily understand the relationship between the programming statements and the behavior of objects in their animation. By manipulating the objects in their virtual world, students gain experience with all the programming constructs typically taught in an introductory programming course.
Alice is definitely in the intermediate to advanced category, but an advantage of working with Alice is that there are many guides to help you along the way. For instance, Alice 3 has a site dedicated to instructional resources for the program. In prepping this post, I found a wealth of resources by a teacher, Ms. Distler, from North Broward Preparatory School in Florida. She has compiled an amazing site of resources that can be found here. Here is one of her students from a few years ago using Alice to tell a story about two snowmen:
In addition to these resources, Duke University has a site called Adventures in Alice Programming where they have lessons plans that range from 4th to 12th grade. Their site also lists workshops and tutorials to help you become comfortable using Alice in your classroom.
Please Share: If you are using or try using Alice with your students, please add a link or video in our comments below.