Thursday, April 7, 2011

Alice in Dirksenland

On Wednesday morning, April 6th, fifty 7th and 8th graders from Dirksen Junior High came to USF to learn about programming. Using Alice, a graphical programming language, the Computer Science department introduced these bright, engaged students to the concepts behind writing computer code and everyone had fun doing it.

The students saw a demo of a graphical scene and then walked briefly through the included tutorial in Alice. Then they learned that avatars weren’t just a name for a movie. Each student built their own avatar and then learned how to make it interact with other objects. They learned about sequencing of instructions, about how to force concurrency of instructions and how to create loops. And maybe most of all, that an object can cluck like a chicken.

But the best sound that was heard was the buzz of activity as they learned what they could do and that programming was fun and a way to be creative.

Helping the students with their discovery were Ross McCallister, Kevin Healy, and Nick Zelinski. Before the students got there, Alex Schmid pitched in to help with the set up of the two labs, and then had to leave to make his class. All four students are Computer Science majors.

                                                      Thanks for all your help.

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