alice in summerland

learning and teaching math in alice

Frivolity with inequality

I chose the inequalities (formerly called mathVocab) program to be my first tutorial because it seems to be the easiest to learn and understand. Although Professor Rodger hadn’t yet critiqued this world, I thought it was a pretty safe bet that she would approve it (which she later did). After asking Chitra and Peggy to critique the visuals and the code, I worked on perfecting the code so that it would be the easiest to understand as possible. Rather than having text objects for every possible number that could go on the left and right sides of the scales, I just changed the parameters of the checkAnswer method from objects to strings and had a line at the beginning that changed the text to say the new numbers read in from the string. This parameter solution gives programmers much more flexibility in terms of adding and removing number examples from the scale.

First slide of my tutorial powerpoint for the Inequalities program.

After Peggy and I took Chitra to The Loop for lunch, I started a Powerpoint for this tutorial and used some of the tutorials on the website as a model. Since my code is a little long, I’m creating the tutorial at the intermediate or advanced level, meaning I don’t need to tell the programmer how to save the world or anything extremely basic like that. Since I still need detailed instructions and pictures, though, I needed to start a new world and build the program along with the tutorial. I haven’t figured out how to open two Alice windows on my computer at once, so I basically had to build the world from memory. Tomorrow when I’m writing the code, though, I will probably need to take a picture of the old code or something because there’s no way I’ll be able to memorize that.

This slide describes how to use bowl shape objects to make a cowbell look like a scale.

One problem I’ve had with creating each slide is judging how much text to put on it. Professor Rodger wants these Powerpoints to be also be presentable and understandable as 2-per-page and 4-per-page PDF’s. This means that the text needs to be big (so far mine is usually size 28) and slides cannot hold too much text. Each slide should also usually have a picture of the current state of the world after adding or changing certain objects, or of mouse clicks to do certain multistep things to various objects. I’m a little worried that my slides are too crowded. I’ve tried to fit a whole idea onto each slide, i.e. one slide talks about adding two number objects to the scale. It’s difficult to break these single ideas onto multiple slides, though it can seem too text-heavy to include the whole idea on one slide. I did notice, though, that the Powerpoints posted on the website seemed to be pretty text-heavy at the beginning when adding objects and then less so when creating the code. Since code itself is broken up into lines, it shouldn’t be hard to space out the text on the coding slides.

10 slides down from building the world today, and probability only about 25 more slides of coding tomorrow until a tutorial is born!

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