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The creation of “Alice” hopes to bring new talent to computer programming field

June 27, 2009
The main character, Alice, of the computer programming game called "Alice."

The main character, Alice, of the computer programming game called "Alice."

ScienceDaily reports that the creators of the computer programming game for middle school aged children are hoping to lure new talent into their computer programming field. The game was created back in 2007, where it teaches kids the basics of computer programming through a story of ice skaters, cute animals, and fearsome dragons instead of numbers, letters, and puctuation in programming languages.

Just by recognizing the name of a computer programming game for children as a girls’ name, Alice, is one small step to luring girls into this science field.  Alice’s interactive computer games especially appeal to young men, according to one study. Another study shows that the game has a story-telling quality especially appeals to young women and minority students. Some stories that children have created through Alice:

  • One placed Sarah Palin in a “seaplane adventure” in which Alaska’s governor has to save her husband after his snowmobile breaks down.
  • An animated nine-hole miniature golf course, complete with smoking volcano.
  • An elaborate board game called “Roll.”
Alice playing golf

Alice playing golf

Traditionally introduction to computer science classes tend to have a higher male population. But not Alice. Susan Rodger, a professor of computer science at Duke University, says that the reason why computer science classes appeal to young boys is because “There are a lot of shoot-’em-up games in particular that kids are playing. That turns off a lot of girls, who in general like to help people and tend to be more social.”

But Alice appeals to both boys and girls. How? Rodgers says that, “Girls want to use animals and characters to tell a story. Boys want to use sci-fi objects, vehicles and lots of fire.”

The game can be downloaded for free at Alice.org

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