One of my student's mom told me about Alice She heard about it in a round about way. I haven't d/l it yet but I plan to take a look tomorrow. The young woman who wrote the program was a student of Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon. Randy was on Oprah this week and his "last lecture" is all over the internet. Take a look at his video and the software from one of his talented students.

From Oprah's website:
Randy Pausch is a married father of three, a very popular professor at Carnegie Mellon University—and he is dying. He is suffering from pancreatic cancer, which he says has returned after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Doctors say he has only a few months to live.

In September 2007, Randy gave a final lecture to his students at Carnegie Mellon that has since been downloaded more than a million times on the Internet. "There's an academic tradition called the 'Last Lecture.' Hypothetically, if you knew you were going to die and you had one last lecture, what would you say to your students?" Randy says. "Well, for me, there's an elephant in the room. And the elephant in the room, for me, it wasn't hypothetical."

Watch Randy's "Last Lecture."

Despite the lecture's wide popularity, Randy says he really only intended his words for his three small children. "I think it's great that so many people have benefited from this lecture, but the truth of the matter is that I didn't really even give it to the 400 people at Carnegie Mellon who came. I only wrote this lecture for three people, and when they're older, they'll watch it," he says.

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I had a check at Alice. That's a program that let you design and alter 3D environments, with the possibility to define set actions for any of your character. It was welcome with enthusiasm when it got out (a few years back). But it doesn't seem to have taken off. A problem is that Alice was developed in Squeak Smalltalk and Smalltalk became somewhat dead as a programming language (see Why Is Smalltalk Dead for technical details). The software works fine, though. A bit of a mid 90s look perhaps but quite powerful in terms of functionalities.

A similar offering is starLogo TNG which proposes a programming environment similar to Scratch (that's the same team), but for interactive 3D content.

For creating non interactive 3D content, you can also use 3D Sketchup, a free desktop software by Google.

Still another option is LDraw, for lego construction in 3D. There is a multiplatform lego designer software that I haven't tried and a brilliant Mac only Bricksmith.
Thanks, I'll check into these offerings.
Alice is a wonderful program that allows Junior High and High school students to create 3D virtual worlds. The program gives a visual feel to creating and combining methods. My JuniorHigh studnets love it. It is a free program and the tutorials that come with it are very helpful. It is a great way to get kids interesting in programing. This past month Storytelling Alice also came out. It is a simpler vrsion of alice that usies just charaters and settings.

Sad to hear about randy's cancer. The folks at Carnegie Mellon created a great program for teaching and getting kids interested in programing. I have used Alice since 2005 with excellent results.

You may also want to take a look at Scratch or Squeak for other programing languages for younger students to try out.
We just had Scratch loaded last week and the kids are already jumping in. I teach gifted kids so I never have to teach them---I just say "have at it". They whine but eventually figure it out. Glad to hear a positive spin, I'll get Alice loaded, too. Looking at the website, I noticed that Alice is for high school and college---is that true. Will my 5th-6th graders be able to use it or should I d/l Storybook Alice? N.
My 6th graders have loved Scratch as well. After I showed the Video Tutorial on the Main page I walkd then through a simple step by step program-from then on they were on their own. Many uploaded programs to the website-a real thrill for them, and they had the most fun by taking projects apart to see what worked. Here is the my wiki where I list what each grade is working on in the two schools I service. You may also want to take a look at the Teacher tool box pag where I have Open source programing links.

Let me know if you try out any of the ones listed that I haven't tried yet

Alice 3.0 is coming out soon using some of the Sim characters from Electronic Arts.
As I use more and more Web 2.0 tools (I'm pretty selective) I keep wondering how long they will be free. When I first started going to NECC in the mid nineties a lot of things were free--eboard, Blackboard, RiverDeep, Big Chalk, epals (I think it might have gone back to being free, Educational Planet, etc. Eventually they all became fee or subscription based. I'm only going to work another couple of years so hopefully I can use all I want before the "fee-days". Thanks for the info. N
Online reports indicate that the project was funded by the NSF till 2007. The funding was of 2 millions dollars. Enough to keep the project going over many years.

I have no internal knowledge whatsoever. I would be ready to bet that scratch is there to stay and will remain free as long as the cost of running the project is not too important. The team behind Scratch belongs to MIT university which shows a very strong commitment to open (free) initiatives (you may already be familiar with their "open courseware" initiative). Mitchel Resnik, the programmer and team leader of the Scratch project, is involved in the $100 laptop project. A condition of the grant was apparently for the code to be made available open source and it has been announced this will be done by late 2007.

The cost of hosting the webservice is not supposed to be too big. It becomes costly when support needs to be provided or when policing is required. I do expect that quite soon, some commercial companies (mostly small ones), will publish mini-games with commercial content in the project galleries. That's a concept called advergaming. Having to cope with spam and unwelcome material is probably more likely than being required to pay for the service. You may then have third party providers with commercial interests come in and propose the purchase a premium service guaranteeing a secure environment for your pupils to share their creations.

You can probably get a better answer on the Scratch Forums. If you can't get any precise answer on the forums, Mitchel Resnick contact details are at the bottom of his publication page.
Thanks for the information.



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