The Alice Project
Posted by Enkill_Eridos on April 17, 2009
This following article is a paper I wrote in one of my classes. I felt that this paper should be shared with the blog for a little bit of information on Randy Pausch and the Alice Project. Enjoy!
The Alice project is a 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. Randy Pausch started this program to be able to teach students fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games.
Alice’s simple interface allows a “drag and drop” type of environment where a student can take a pregenerated objects (people, animals, and vehicles) and animate those objects to whatever the student desires. The user interface also corresponds to standard statements in a production oriented programming language, such as Java, C++ and C#. Alice also allows students to immediately see how their programs run, enabling them to easily understand the relationship between the programming statements and the behavior of objects in their animation or games.
Alice is available for the three major Operating Systems used in most computers today. Those operating systems are Windows (all current versions), Mac OS, and Linux. Randy Pausch the creator of the program spent almost ten years developing the program. He was able to see a rough version of version three which is being created by Carnegie Mellon and Sun Microsystems. Sun Microsystems is most famous for two programs one of which is used in everyday Internet surfing. Those two programs are the Java Runtime Environment and Open Office. Open Office is a free word processing program that can read and save in multiple formats including Microsoft Office.
Today the current version of Alice 2.0 is being used in 10 to 15 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. Of which I believe PHCC (Pasco Hernando Community College in Brooksville, Dade City, and New Port Richey, Fl The college I currently attend.) is that 10 to 15 percent because I have seen the program on computers in both the Library and the Learning Lab. Also high schools and middle schools are also using Alice to teach to students. There are two versions of the program the main one Alice 2.0 and Storytelling Alice that is especially designed for the target audience of middle school girls. The program itself is an amazing program that allows students to learn about programming in a 3D environment. The Alice Project has been supported in the past by the National Science Foundation, DARPA, Intel, Microsoft, and SAIC, as well as Electronic Arts, Google, General Dynamics, the Heinz Endowments and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. This program is free and is available to anyone by going to http://www.alice.org. You can also find out more information on that website.
The program itself is Open Source, which means the source code is available free of charge for download. Users can modify the code and also add more objects. The Alice Project has a large community contributing to it regularly.
The following is an interview taken from http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/articles/20060222/behindthescenes.asp
Randy Pausch: Why is Alice called Alice?
This is one of my favorite questions. It always lets me know the question asker is thinking in the correct direction. After all, the ability to name something is a tremendous power, and in this case, there’s a terrific reason.
Alice pays homage to Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Carroll was a mathematician, novelist, and photographer. Most important, he could do intellectually difficult things but also realized the most powerful thing was to be able to communicate clearly and in an entertaining way. This inspires our efforts to make something as complex as computer programming easy and fun.
The name is also a very practical choice. The artwork associated with the Alice books is now in the public domain, its copyright having lapsed. Also, the name “Alice” has several other advantages:
- It’s easy to spell.
- It’s easy to pronounce.
- It shows up near the top of alphabetical lists.
You can learn more about Lewis Carroll at www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/
~history/Mathematicians/Dodgson.html (University of St Andrews).—Randy Pausch
A little about Randy Pausch. Randy Pausch died in the summer of 2008 of pancreatic cancer. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland Pennsylvania. Oakland Pa is a borough of Pittsburgh. Penn State University is across the street from Carnegie Mellon. Randy Pausch was a professor in the Computer Science and Computer Human interaction. He is also famous for The Last Lecture but this is his legacy in my opinion.
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture I would suggest everyone watch this inspirational video.