Monday, August 11, 2008

The Alice Project

As some of you may know, Randy Pausch (the professor from Carnegie Mellon who gave The Last Lecture) was an incredible soul who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. If you have not seen his Last Lecture- I highly recommend it. He gave the lecture after he was diagnosed with his terminal illness. In every way, his presentation was beautiful, humorous, wonderful and inspiring. After seeing the video on You Tube, I had to know more. He mentioned his legacy- a computer program designed to teach computer programming skills to kids and college students called The Alice Project. The project is a program that uses a 3D modality to create animated stories. Check out the Alice Storytelling version. It is designed for middle school-aged kids. One of his grad students, Caitlin Kelleher, created this version. She did research and found the story-telling format was an especially good way for girls to learn basic computer programming. I am very appreciative of the fact that she investigated how best to teach our girls computer programming skills.

You can download the Alice program and/or the Storytelling Alice for free. My nine year-old son LOVED using the storytelling version. It is really a simple, yet impressive design with drag and drop components. If you make a wrong move, the pop up text will tell you how to proceed. Very creative and smart- just like the smart girls (and boys) I know!
Who knows how many people will be touched by this legacy? Both Professors Pausch and Kelleher get Smart Girls Fun Awards for Excellence!!
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