WISE Women & Alice 3.0: Geek Chic for Girls (Part One)

aliceJan. 28, 2009 The She’s Geeky and Teens in Tech Conferences coming up this weekend have me thinking about all of the underrepresented DigiGirlz out there and the impact of media and marketing on both genders in terms of career paths and children’s choices. Just as Baryshnikov and the late great Nureyev evolved ‘boy ballerina’ perceptions and crashed through stereotypes of male dancers, women in math, science, engineering, and technology are shattering mythology of what ‘she-geeks’ look like, sound like, act like, and are interested in. Thank gawd…

It’s about time smart minds start wrapping themselves around the notion that girls in tech go far beyond marketing and PR career paths and ‘think pink’ software products targeting kids in fashionista StarDoll mentality. Sheesh.

So today I’m going to launch a mini-series on some of my own favorite finds in the hopes that you’ll chime in and add your own resources, beyond the WISE women (“women into science/engineering”) to help put girls on track when it comes to technology and cool new ways to use it.

Ironically, there are plenty of worthy picks…but without heavy ‘marketing’ the ‘media’ gets buried in no man’s land! (pun intended) Here ya go, girls!

Positive Picks for WISE  Women & Girls (pls. add your own!)

alice3 The Alice Project:

First of all, what IS Alice? (videos/demo here)

And why is its role in making computer science more approachable for kids essential to reverse a waning interest in the field?

Shaping Youth is doing a full feature soon on the fresh new collaboration between Sun Microsystems teaming with Alice 3.0, since it’s been in the queue since the announcement around Thanksgiving…Suffice it to say, this Carnegie Mellon University’s Alice in Wonderland style 3D animation meets computer programming hub is way cool, and is absolutely not just for ‘she-geeks.’

The Alice Project teaching tool gives kids fundamental concepts in creating animated clips, simple video games, and how-tos for programming objects like animals, people, cars, in 3D environs to make learning fun.


Age wise, it’s mostly teen techies, but there’s a spot for middle school girls to dive in too…Free, fun concept with lots of collaborations in progress (e.g. Alice 3.0 will integrate the programming tool with characters from Electronic Arts’ hit video game The Sims2 to make programming more approachable; newest partners include Sun, NSF, etc. )

randypauschBack story from Alice.org:

“Alice was the key research project of Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon’s beloved professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design who died of pancreatic cancer last summer at the age of 47. Pausch spent more than a decade of his career developing the program. He was able to see a rough version of a new, enhanced Alice 3 just before he died…”

“Over the next three years, Sun Microsystems will work with Carnegie Mellon to globalize Alice, providing the tools to translate it into different languages and develop drag and drop artifacts unique to a variety of cultures. Sun will work with the Alice development team to bring the system to a worldwide audience of educators and students.”


Here’s more on the Alice blog, site, sponsors, and news from ‘Alice in the field’ where 5th and 6th graders are using the tutorials and storytelling.

Girls are also using their computer science Alice progamming to learn to produce animated movies (some posted on YouTube, like this pop culture movie takeoff via FirstBytes, where you can SEE how kids are using Alice in storytelling/comic form)

alice5P.S. Go ask Alice…

Word has it they’ll soon be announcing summer symposiums at Duke University, June 15-19 for Alice 3, so heads up educators and STEM enrichment ‘classroom 2.0’ types!

More tomorrow in Part Two…Featuring favorites like Brain Cake, Scratch, PicoCricket, and more…

Related Resources for WISE Women & Girls:

Girls in Tech.net (Facebook group here)


Girls Are IT!

Girl Geeks.org

Female Science Professor Blogspot (insightful, fresh view from a  femme/STEM with humor and wit!)

Smart Girls Fun Blogspot (love the focus; link list alone has some worthy finds, like Little Shop of Physics, and some I’d never stumbled upon)

Wise Women Campaign.org/U.K.–WISE Girls

Center for Women & Information Technology

Inspirational Women from WISE

Nasa Quest: Women of NASA

Women in Engineering Org

And many more tomorrow in part two…

3:42 Video Demo of Alice Programming for a New Generation

(the whys, the hows, the impact on kids, and yes, Randy Pausch)

From Carnegie Mellon University (Descriptor below)

“Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a freely available teaching tool designed to be a student’s first exposure to object-oriented programming. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games.”

Alice’s new collaboration with Sun Microsystems:

RELEASE HERE (out-takes below)

“Sun’s participation will provide our team with the technical resources we need to bring the development of Alice 3 to completion over the next three years,” Dann said. “We will bring out a full release of Alice 3 and follow that with the development of application programming interfaces that will make it useful in all STEM disciplines, including computer science.” Dann said that Alice 3 also will make it easier for teachers using Alice to move their students into Java software.

Alice 3 also will feature essential arts assets from a version of “The Sims™” — one of the best selling PC video games of all time — which were given as a gift to the research team in 2006.”

…”The Sims content helps to transform the Alice software from a crude, 3-D programming tool into a compelling and user-friendly programming environment.”

“Alice 3 is a major advance over the 2.0 version” said Peter Lee, professor and head of the Computer Science Department in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.

“It retains the attractive, intuitive interface that motivates students to write computer programs almost without knowing it…

…”At the same time, it provides a pathway to learning industrial-strength Java software programming. For many, this will be a great ticket to upward mobility.”

All visual credits: CMU



  1. I learned alice programming in high school and I thought it was a great introduction to programming. It wasn’t extremely complicated, yet at the same time, it introduced me to the basic levels of programming. Great program! Thanks for posting this! It’s a great program that I think more people should try!

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