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Kids Making the Future of Java

I had the opportunity to participate in the Make the Future of Java Workshop last week, which was a lot of fun.  Kids ages 13 and up got a chance to learn how to program using Alice and Greenfoot technologies.

The sessions were taught by the experts themselves.  Wanda Dann and Don Slater from the Alice project came all the way from Carnegie Mellon University to help teach the very latest version of the tool.

This is a picture from the end of the event where the students showed what they had created.  After only 1 day of hands-on teaching, they were able to create some very impressive projects ranging from creative stories acted out by animated characters to interactive games where you can explore a 3D world using the keyboard.

For those of you who have not tried Alice recently, the 3.x version is entirely rewritten in Java and even includes support to open projects in NetBeans via a special plug-in.  This dramatically improves the power of Alice, letting you take advantage of the full power of the Java platform in your creations.

The Greenfoot lab was equally impressive, taught by Michael Kölling from the University of Kent.  Students worked in small teams and were given a lot of flexibility in this lab to be creative.  This is a shot of the session in progress as they were showcasing the student projects.

And of course, I brought my older daughter, Cassandra, along as an attendee, so she got a chance to brush up on some of her design and scripting skills (if you have been to any of my presentations, she is the one riding behind me on my motorcycle).  Even though she was on the young side for the workshop, she had a lot of fun and was inspired to try more at home.

So if you have a budding programmer at home, there is not time like the present to get them started on developing applications and games in Java using Alice and Greenfoot!

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