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Afterschool Curriculum Choice: Technology Resources

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Resource Description
Staff, Planning,
and Costs
Standards, Research, and Evaluation


This educational software, named Alice, teaches users computer programming in a 3-D environment. Young people can easily create animations to tell a story, produce an interactive game, or make videos to share on the web. A free teaching tool, Alice introduces fundamental programming concepts in the context of making media.

Alice was developed to engage young people in computer science and, especially, to demonstrate the relevance and applicability of computer science concepts to addressing real-world problems. The software and supporting materials grow out of a collaboration of faculty, staff, and students across several universities.

Content Focus:
Math, Media Arts Production, Computer Programming

Linkages to:
Science, Language Arts

Grades/Ages: 7th grade and up

Costs: Free
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.

Publication Date: 1999-2008

Developer Contact Information
Alice is a multi-university initiative that includes Carnegie Mellon University, St. Joseph's University, and Washington University

Design Overview

Alice's 3-D environment provides an engaging platform for developing interactive stories, animations, and games. Young people learn about design by creating 3-D characters, backgrounds, and stories; then they use the programming tiles to make those objects interact in compelling ways. In Alice's interactive interface, users simply drag and drop graphic tiles to create a program. The graphic tiles make it easier for beginners to learn the basics of computer programming by eliminating the need to know and type out the appropriate commands. Alice also allows young people to get immediate feedback on their work. They see right away how their programs run, and gain understanding of the relationship between programming statements and the behavior of objects in their animation.

This software program is currently available in two versions, which appeals to different groups of users and learners. Alice 2.0 is geared towards high school-aged youth and/or young people in middle school who participate in ongoing programs with an emphasis on learning computer programming. Storytelling Alice, the other version available, is geared towards middle school youth. It is intended as a digital storytelling tool and, in the process, introduces the basics of computer programming, but it is a simpler program. Both versions use similar concepts and interfaces to engage young people in the creation of interactive projects.

  • Activity Types: design, media arts production, exhibition
  • Materials/technology required: Computer, Alice Program (both versions - Alice 2.0 & Storytelling Alice - can be downloaded for free from the website) available for both Mac OS X and Windows machines. Internet is recommended for accessing the supporting resources, and LCD Projector for demonstrating.
  • Program Length/Duration: Variable - workshops can last one hour or run over the course of multiple sessions/weeks
  • Site Adoption: Afterschool programs, museums, and high schools

Instructional Approach

With the Alice software program, young people drive the learning process, experimenting and exploring in the course of working on their projects. Problem solving is key to success - only by playing with the tools and command blocks will young people see their 3-D animations come to life. Educators can facilitate this process by providing the space and support for creativity and youth-led learning opportunities.

Consideration of Special Student Populations

Alice was designed to engage and encourage beginning programmers who might otherwise grow frustrated and lose interest in computer science. In particular, the developers report that Alice has been shown to help those students who have a weak math background or who have no prior programming experience succeed in computer science courses.

Online Training for Afterschool Staff
The Afterschool Training Toolkit is available online free of charge.

The following resources can be used with the online Afterschool Training Toolkit to give you the resources you need to build fun, innovative, and academically enriching afterschool activities.