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DREU Blog: Week 1

Monday, May 17th

This is the first day of my DREU. To start, I talked with Dr. Rodger for a little while about what I will be doing this summer. She gave me a few things to keep me busy for a while. It looks like for the first week or so I will be researching to see what other students have done in the past for the Alice project, setting up my website, and learning how to use Alice.

I have never made a website before, so I started by going through a HTML tutorial. It was pretty quick to go through, but I still only know the very basics for now. Hopefully, later I will learn how to do more advanced things.

Next, I did an Alice tutorial. I learned how to use Alice in a CS class my first semester of college. But, it has been a while so I wanted something to refresh my memory. I did a tutorial called skateWorld. I only completed 3 out of the 4 parts since it was pretty long. There were a few things I learned how to do with Alice that I've never done before and I think are very helpful. First, I used the quad-view. This makes it easier to position objects and make sure they are in the right spot. I also learned a new technique for setting the camera viewpoint. Another small (but very helpful) thing I learned was how to find an object when you drag it into the world and it gets lost somehow.

Tuesday, May 18th

Today I continued a lot of the work I did yesterday. I added some color and design to my website. I also created other parts to my website besides just the blog. I completed the last part of the 4 part Alice tutorial which showed how to use 3D text and how to import and use 2D images. I read the articles from the research done on the Alice project from the past two summers. Summaries and links can be found on the links section of my website. I did some more Alice tutorials. Some of them I just read through the slides to save time and I still got a pretty good understanding of them. I read through the How Tall Are You? tutorial which introduced functions and If/Else statements. I also went through the quiz tutorial which used the Ask User functions. I went through and actually did the light tutorial which involved lighting and special effects for a scene from The Nutcracker. Then I went through the Scene Changes Tutorial

Wednesday, May 19th

This morning Professor Rodger took me to get my Duke card. She also showed me around campus so I am starting to get my bearings. After that I read and summarized a couple more papers. They were both about how Alice can be used to introduce students to programming concepts. For lunch, all of the undergrads doing CS research that are here so far met in a cafe on campus. There are only about five other people here so far but it was nice to get to meet them. After lunch I did some more Alice tutorials. I did Making Billoards, Headshots in Alice, Shark Vs T-Rex (Understanding asSeenBy), and What Can Burn in the Junkyard (creating functions). The Shark vs. T-Rex tutorial was helpful for me because I had used asSeenby in other tutorials but didn't really understand what it meant. I made some notes on what changes could be made to the Junkyard (functions) tutorial. It seemed like some parts of the tutorial were simply explaining step by step what to do instead of explaining why to do those things. I still need to add some information to my website. I am still trying to decide if I want to learn more techniques to make it fancier or just leave it simple like it is.

Thursday, May 20th

Today I read three more articles. I read one about using Alice to teach recursion, one about teaching Alice to engineering students, and one about some research done on how well Alice prepares students for programming. The last one was very interesting because it showed statistically how helpful Alice can be. Summaries and links to each of those can be found in the links part of my website. I also made some small modifications to my website. I also looked at some sample Alice worlds involving spanish, math, and dance. I am starting to think of some other ways Alice could be used to teach various subjects. I met with Dr. Rodger and Liz about what we need to do to prepare for the workshops. I did a few more Alice tutorials. I noticed some problems with the "Making Objects Move in Unison" tutorial which I made note of to fix later.

Friday, May 21st

Today I did a few more Alice tutorials. I did some on inheritance, creating object folders, and exporting worlds to webpages or videos. I started looking through a tutorial Liz made on how to upload a new Alice tutorial. I think I will look into that more in depth when I create my own tutorial. I went through the pinata tutorial which taught you how to create a game with a timer and a score. There were a few things I noticed as I went through it that could be improved. So I changed some of the slides and uploaded the new PowerPoint file. I finished off the day by reading two more articles.

Week 2