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Storytelling Alice v. Alice for child
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Default Storytelling Alice v. Alice for child - 11-29-2007, 04:27 PM

Good afternoon,
I am not a professional teacher, but have introduced my 9yo daughter to Storytelling Alice. I'd like to solicit advice on a few questions that I have regarding her development.

1. What is considered to be an "appropriate" time to introduce regular Alice to a child? I've read that STA is geared toward middle school and Alice is geared toward higher learning, but should I let my daughter run with STA until she's shows declining interest or are there particular skills that I could evaluate to determine that she's ready for the next step? It seems that support and a larger audience would be benefits of having her step up to regular Alice.

2. I read the list of schools using Alice, but does anyone know of schools using Storytelling Alice?

3. I'm not a programmer by trade, but I have worked in the computer field on the system side for 20 years or so. What would be good skills for me to learn prior to attempting to teach her Alice, at least until she gets into programming courses at school? For example, would a basic understanding of Java be a good step?

4. I would imagine that many of the conferences, or short courses, would be held during the summer given the number of education professionals posting here. Is there a list of such events posted somewhere that might be of interest to me or her?

Any additional advice or guidance would be appreciated.

Thank you,
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Default 2c - 11-29-2007, 09:33 PM

There are other people on this forum better qualified than me to answer this, but here's my 2c on 1 & 3.

1. Appropriate times for teaching are highly individual. Teachers don't often get the luxury of pacing our teaching to an individual child because we have a whole class to consider, those are the constraints the age brackets are designed for. I like your idea of running storytelling until she shows the declining interest. Pace it to her interest level and share the results.

3. As a teacher, I have a difficult time telling anyone they don't need to learn something, but ... I think learning Java in order to teach Alice would be overkill. It might be helpful if you were familiar with some procedural language so that you understand some of the concepts outside of Alice's framework, but, especially on a middle-school level, I expect you could learn it along with her just as well.

One thing to consider is that there are more resources available for Alice than there are for Storytelling Alice (like Dick Baldwin's excellent, but a bit more advanced than you will probably need, I'm no expert on Storytelling Alice, but with the differences I have seen you could probably use the Alice stuff without too much difficulty, but it is something to keep in mind, especially if you want your daughter to be able to look things up herself.
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Default 11-30-2007, 06:34 PM

If the object is just to introduce a child to computer concepts, as opposed to actual programming, I would recommend starting with Scratch ( and moving to Alice when the child outgrows the simpler program. Scratch is specifically aimed at younger children, not beginning CS students, and their forum has a fairly active discussion of the appropriate ages to introduce various concepts.
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similar projects
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Default similar projects - 12-04-2007, 12:05 PM

Originally Posted by DrJim View Post
If the object is just to introduce a child to computer concepts, as opposed to actual programming, I would recommend starting with Scratch ( and moving to Alice when the child outgrows the simpler program.[...]
Thanks for the link.
Befor you posted it, I thoughted, that Alice is the only one in this area.

I have also now searched the Web and seen, that the MIT have an additional project which is similar to Alice: StarLogo TNG.

Scratch and StarLogo TNG are also both nice and have its advantages and disadvantages.
StarLogo TNG for example have already nice 3D models.

StarLogo TNG is also like Alice written in Java.
Scranch is not wriiten in Java, but the created scenes can run in an Java-Applet.

But both MIT-projects have the disadvantage, that they are not OpenSource.

In the StarLogo TNG FAQ there stand

> Is StarLogo TNG open source? Can StarLogo TNG be open source?
> StarLogo TNG is free for educational use, but it is not currently open
> source. The interface (blocks) will be released as a separate open source
> component soon so that other projects can use the blocks in connection with
> various programming enviornments. The previous version of StarLogo has been
> released under an open source license as OpenStarLogo.

But if you read on the OpenStarLogo side, you will see, that it is not OpenSource.
Here they say:

> Are there any license restrictions on OpenStarLogo?
> The license for OpenStarLogo permits free use and distribution for
> non-commercial purposes. It does limit commercial distribution
> (but not use by commercial organizations), which means that it is
> not OSI compliant.

Look also at the OpenStarLogo License.

But happily Alice is OpenSouce. And the only thing in the license, what they want is, that is you use Alice-code, that you mention, that you use code from the Carnegie Mellon University.

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Scratch and Squeak
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Default Scratch and Squeak - 12-04-2007, 04:12 PM

Scratch is actually written in Squeak which is a simplified version of Smalltalk. If you do a search of the forum for these two names, you will find a description of how to access the source code. I have no idea how easy it is to modify (for me it would be impossible, but that's true for Java code also).

As far as Alice goes, actually doing something with the "open" source seems to be difficult, although LanceA's postings indicate that Georgia Tech (and maybe others) have had some success.

Note: Just checked to make sure the Scratch/Squeak program was still there. It is, at .
The online version doesn't seem to run anymore but the downloaded version works fine.

Last edited by DrJim; 12-04-2007 at 04:30 PM. Reason: Added reference URL
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