Week 6

This has been a busy week. In fact it is Saturday today and I am just going through and writing up what has happened this week. Instead of rewriting the entire itinerary you can go to the workshop web page to get more details. Week One Workshop.

Basically it looked like this:
  • Monday: Welcome and introduction tutorials
  • Tuesday: Introduction tutorials and exercises
  • Wednesday: Presentation and next step tutorials
  • Thursday: Presentation, tour of the Dive and next step tutorial
  • Friday: Final tutorials and Alice 3 demonstration

It was a full week and we packed in a lot of information. The workshop was well received by the teachers and I heard comments like. "Wow, I actually like this, and I didn't think and would." "I've learned more in this workshop than I have in the last two years of working with Alice."

A typical day starts around 9:00am. There is usually a short presentation, a few example Alice worlds might be shown and then a tutorial is started. The pace is slow and steady with the assumption that the teachers do not have any programming experience. There are 15 minute morning and afternoon breaks and an hour lunch break. The day ends at 4:00pm.

Those of us that are helping out throughout the day include: Deborah, Jenna, Liz, Maggie and myself. (Henry and Jonathan help out when needed). You can see our pictures on the presenters webpage. There are at least two of us in the lab room with the teachers, waiting for a hand or comment to draw us where help is needed.

There were about 40 teachers from diverse backgrounds this week. Some of the teachers have already been using Alice in the classroom, while others were seeing it for the first time. The week long workshop is set up into tutorials that will teach the basics of how to use Alice as well as some of the basic programming concepts needed to develop more advanced Alice worlds.

The first day is filled with making sure everyone is set up. The teachers bring their own laptops hopefully with Alice already downloaded. This is not always possible so we help with making connections to the wireless internet and making sure the Alice is up and running.

The tutorials are either broken into parts or they are shorter sessions. They are designed to be between 30 and 60 minutes, but it depends on the computer skills of the group. There is a lot of drag and drop requirements and I have seen a few people struggle, especially when they did not have a mouse. The tutorials that were present are posted online and available for anyone to use.

Lunches and snacks are provided, and I must say the food is outstanding! Mexican popsicles from from LocoPops, treats from the local authentic German bakery Guglhupf, and catered hot lunches including choice from a traditional North Carolina BBQ.

During the workshop I helped by going around to make sure everyone was keeping up with the tutorial. If someone was stuck, I would stay with that person until they had caught up to the rest of the group. For those teachers who are already ahead I would field advanced questions not covered in the tutorial.

On Wednesday we took our lunch to the undergrad meeting where Duke Professor Xiaowei Yang talked about her research in architecture design and security of networks and distributed systems. Her website gives some more details about what she is working on.

On Friday I presented a short tutorial to the group. It was for making an interactive quiz in an Alice world. When I was not helping, presenting (or eating) I was creating some Alice example worlds. At the request of an art teacher I made a simple shape figure to help with modeling positions for students to draw. I have also started on a geometry world.

Short Weekend for the Birds

On Saturday Dean Baker treated my apartment-mates, friends and me to lunch at Elmo's Diner. We had interesting discussions and Dean Baker talked about his passion for a new program to help African American Duke students in Pre Med.

Here are a few pictures of the birds I saw on Friday and Saturday. You can find more pictures on my Flickr page.