alice in summerland

learning and teaching math in alice

Alice hits the news

There was an exciting article on the front page Duke Today today called Reviving Interest in Math and Science that featured this project. I used this article to pitch it to The Chronicle, and I or one of the writers is going to try to write a story about this for next week!

Anyway, after rewriting the permutations yesterday and rebuilding it today (twice) as I’m making the tutorial, I’m pretty confident that I could teach this lesson by memory. But, then I wouldn’t have red circles, arrows, pictures, fun layouts, etc. to make it pretty for the kids who will be using them!

I’m about halfway (hopefully) through the tutorial, and I’m trying to make it more concise than the inequalities one. I’m still going through most details about how to follow each instruction, but I’m not really including pictures for creating variables, finding world in the object tree, or simple things like that anymore. Still, though, there’s an excruciating amount of detail.

I used the stratified random sampling process from one of my other worlds to select two slides to display on this blog: one slide from the adding objects phase of the tutorial and one from the building phase.

Adding in text that keeps track of the number of permutations.

The slide to the left shows the programmer how to add in text at the top of the screen that will count the number of permutations as the students are switching places. As you can see from the slide, the programmer adds text by going to the Gallery in Alice, and selecting the Create 3D text folder, etc. Then the last bullet point shows the programmer how to make the number (which starts out as 0.0) “smart” in the sense that it does change with ever switch in position. That is what this counter variable is for that I told the programmer to create. In the switch method, which, as its name suggests, switches two players’ places, there is a line that increments the count by 1 after the switch, at the end of the method.

Adding an event--when a user types P, a description of permutations will pop up.

This next slide teaches the programmer how to create an event. This new event tells us that when a user types P, a “billboard” that we added into the program that describes permutations will pop up. The next slide fills in the Do in order and makes the billboard show up for 6 seconds and then disappear again. We also create a similar event for F, but this time the factorial billboard comes up. The last event is that, when the user types S, the game will start, indicating that he already understands the basics of permutations and factorials or has read the billboards that he needed to.

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