alice in summerland

learning and teaching math in alice

Life is a blog

I have spent more time with WordPress than humans for the past few days.

I completely remodeled this blog Tuesday night and have been working on it since, editing the CSS and learning HTML along the way. After talking to Professor Rodger today, who said that I needed to cite my sources more thoroughly when discussing papers, I decided to add a “Papers” page to the sidebar properly site the papers and discuss them there, rather than including them on these posts. I’ve also been spending a lot of time beginning to remodel The Chronicle Blog (thankfully I was already familiar with WordPress and the CSS stylesheet from this Alice blog) in terms of theme, content, and some code-able changes and also wrote a new post yesterday. I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. last night remodeling the site, so describing my current state as “tired” would be an understatement. Looking forward to getting some rest over the 3-day weekend, though!

I worked more on my Craps game this morning, fixing some glitches and adding the “don’t pass” bet as an option and coding a method for that. I stopped after that, though, because I realized that it was getting a little too complicated and isn’t really teaching that many math concepts. I think I will make a Yatzee game, though, because I think that could teach more probability concepts and kids are probably already familiar with the game. My initial reserve for making a Yatzee program was that I wasn’t excited about the idea of making 6 dice when it already took me forever to make 2. Professor Rodger reminded me that I could just import billboards (pictures) of the various faces of the dice and glue them to each of the sides, which would make their creation much quicker and easier.

Professor Rodger also helped me think through the idea of making the multiplication table program randomized so it would be more exciting for kids to complete. I’d seen the visual arrays objects in Alice, but I didn’t realize that it could also just use arrays as normal data structures in methods. So I started to make a method called fillRandomly that shuffles a 121-object array of the 3D text objects that display the numbers in the grid (this shuffling algorithm will also help me in the event that I decide to make card games in Alice!). Because Alice doesn’t contain the possibility of using explicit maps, I had to make a number array with the numbers 0 to 120, each representing a different position on the grid. I use these two arrays in unison, shuffling them in the same manner, so that each 3D text object corresponds to its correct position. From the numbers in the position array, I can extract the rows and columns using modulo arithmetic, and can therefore find the numbers I’m multiplying and their products, which is what I need to display in the prompt box for the user. Im going to finish this method tomorrow and also probably add an option for players to escape the game mid-play.

My life would be so much easier if Alice could just do the simple arithmetic involving integers without adding a “.0” to everything.

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