Opinions on teaching Java programming at the high school level? Recommendations for an education-worthy (read: inexpensive) development environment? We are currently doing some Alice programming, which is Java-like, but I would like to give our students experience with the real-thing too.

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Might want to check out Squeak (Smalltalk) .. Object oriented like Java ... very Java like (is actually the precursor to Java)-- http://squeak.org .... EToys is based on Squeak as well - http://www.squeakland.org

I realize it's kind of too late now, but in case this could help someone else...

Popular free Java development environments:
* DrJava
* JGrasp
* BlueJ

The industry-grade Eclipse is also free though more of a beast to deal with.
I would say, that there could be no harm in teaching basic Java development at the high school level. It will prepare them for college and also help them enter the work force a lot earlier by showing they have knowledge and proficiency in Java. You may even have some students who will take it farther and create their own startup.

I started programming on my own when in middle school (about 7th grade). It was difficult at first, but I believe it helped me grasp the concepts and ideologies a lot sooner. It also led me to develop a few startups at the time. Hope this helps.

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