The Alice Challenge invites middle and high school students in the Pittsburgh region to create 3D animations, engaging games, or immersive experiences using the Alice programming environment. Alice helps students develop technical skills and encourages them to explore their creativity, all while making something meaningful. Entries will be judged by real game designers and industry experts. Subscribe to updates about the Alice Challenge here.
Thank you to all of the students who submitted to the Alice Challenge!
We received submissions from over 70 students as part of the inaugural Alice Challenge. Students in grades 5 – 12 residing in the Pittsburgh region submitted Alice projects as entries to the Animation, Game, or Good Neighbor competition categories described below
Stay tuned for Challenge finalists and winners!
Competition Categories and Prizes
To enter the competition, students can use Alice 2 or Alice 3 to create projects for one of the competition categories:
Put on your director’s cap and start storyboarding! Animations in Alice use the scene builder, camera placements/moves, functions, and procedures to create an explorable virtual world or tell a story. If you want to tell an original tale, create your own interpretation of a classic story, or create an immersive environment full of mysteries and magic, this category is for you.
Winners in this category will receive VR Goggles, a tour of the CMU Entertainment Technology Center, and a 3-hour gameplay token at Looking for Group.
Sure, winning games is fun, but have you tried building games? In Alice, you can use procedures, functions, and event listeners to build a game that lets users interact with the characters and objects in a scene to win, lose, learn, and play. Whether you want to create your own version of a game you love or think through the dynamics of a completely new game, this category let’s you decide how the game is played. Games can be of any genre—driving, quiz, puzzle, whatever you can make with Alice.
Winners in this category will receive a tour of Schell Games and a 3-hour gameplay token at Looking for Group. Middle school winners will receive a Kano Computer Kit Complete, and high school winners will receive a Makey Makey Classic and a gift card to Games Unlimited.
Fred Rogers once said that “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” If you want to be a hero, or help people find the hero in themselves, then the Good Neighbor category is for you. Inspired by television personality and native Pittsburgher Fred Rogers’ legacy, this category is about creating experiences for social good—experiences that encourage kindness and responsibility, and help people see their own value in the world. Entries can be Alice animations, games, or whatever you can imagine.
Winners in this category will receive a Finch Robot from BirdBrain Technologies, a tour of City of Asylum, and a 3-hour gameplay token at Looking for Group.
All finalists will receive Alice stickers and apparel, swag from Carnegie Mellon University, and a 1-hour gameplay token from Looking for Group. More prizes to come! Check back here for updates.
The Alice Challenge occurs over the 2017-2018 academic year.
November 2017 - January 2018: Training for teachers and out-of-school educators
February 2018: The submission period opens. Educators will be provided with kits of materials to support students preparing entries for submission
March 3, 2018: All participants invited to full-day Alice Bootcamp where they can learn about game development, social impact design, and receive coaching on their Alice Challenge projects
April 23rd, 2018 May 1st, 2018, 11:59 PM EDT: Submissions deadline
May 1 - 31, 2018: Judging period
June 5, 2018: Finalists showcase and award ceremony to honor winners with prizes
This inaugural challenge is part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.
Do you want to bring the Alice Challenge to your classroom or learning space? Teachers and out-of-school educators are encouraged to sign up for free training workshops to learn how to use Alice with your students and support their participation in the competition:
- Thursday, November 9 at transformED at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit
- Tuesday, November 14 at transformED West at Montour High School
- Wednesday, November 29 at Assemble
- Wednesday, January 10 at Intermediate Unit 1
- Monday, January 15 at Westmoreland Intermediate Unit
- Tuesday, January 23 at transformED at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit
- Thursday, February 1 at the Consortium for Public Education
There are currently no upcoming teacher trainings for the Alice Challenge. Our humble thanks to the 75+ teachers who attended, and to our hosts across the Pittsburgh region! If you were unable to attend a scheduled training, or would like to plan a separate training for your colleagues or staff, please contact us and we’ll find a way to get you trained.
Or, if you’re interested in learning Alice this summer, check out our four and a half day training workshop coming up July 16-20 at Carnegie Mellon University.
- The Alice Challenge is open to all students in grades 5-12 in Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.
- Both in-school and out-of-school programs may participate in the Alice Challenge.
- Students under 18 must have their parent or legal guardian’s permission to participate in the Challenge.
- All participating students must be sponsored by an adult. Sponsors may be teachers, administrators, librarians, home-school educators, out-of-School educators, after-school educators, mentors, coaches, or parents.
- Students may participate as an individual, or in a team of up to four individuals. Each member of the team must satisfy the eligibility requirements. Each team must designate a “Team Leader” to serve as representative for all Challenge-related communications.
- Applicants may submit one entry per category (for a maximum of three submissions) to the Alice Challenge, either as an individual or team applicant. Each entry must be a separate project and one entry can not be submitted to multiple categories.
Student submissions will be judged in two divisions, a Middle Division for students in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 and an Upper Division for students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. If a team includes a mixture of Middle Division and Upper Division students, Carnegie Mellon in its discretion will determine in which division the team will be judged.
Animations can be linear or interactive narratives that tell a story or build an environment. Entries to the animation category will be judged on:
- Creativity: How unique is the story that is being told or the approach of the presentation?
- Visual Presentation: How immersive is the world that has been created? How complex or impactful is the flow of the visual representation, camera movements, and general composition?
- Technical Implementation: How complex is the technical implementation? Does the entry make use of programming concepts to simplify or structure the project? Is the code commented making it easy to understand? Does the entry make use of audio or other features?
Games can be of any genre such as a driving game, quiz game, or whatever you can make. All games must have a goal for player interaction. Entries to the games category will be judged on:
- Creativity: How unique is the game theme or mechanics?
- Visual Presentation: How immersive is the world that is created? How aligned is the visual presentation with the theme and game mechanics?
- Technical Implementation: How complex is the technical implementation? Does the entry make use of programming concepts to simplify or structure their project? Is the code commented making it easy to understand? Does the entry make use of audio or other features?
Good Neighbor Criteria
Inspired by the legacy of Fred Rogers, this category is about creating experiences for social good. Entries can be animations, games, or whatever you can imagine. Entries to the Good Neighbor category will be judged on:
- Creativity: How unique is the approach to addressing the social issue?
- Visual Presentation: How immersive is the world that is created? How aligned is the visual presentation with approach to addressing the social issue?
- Technical Implementation: How complex is the technical implementation? Does the entry make use of programming concepts to simplify or structure their project? Is the code commented making it easy to understand? Does the project make use of audio or other features?
- Impact Potential: How well articulated is the approach to the issue and how much potential is there for the entry to achieve its goals?
Finalists in all divisions and criteria will be reviewed by a panel of industry experts to determine the final challenge winners.
Alice is a free block-based programming environment that makes it easy to create animations, build interactive narratives, or program simple games in 3D.
The Alice Challenge invites middle and high school students in the Pittsburgh region to create 3D animations, engaging games, or immersive experiences using the Alice programming environment.
We are limiting entries to the Pittsburgh and surrounding area so that we can best support the teachers and students participating in this inaugural challenge. We hope that in the future we can take what we learn from this challenge and provide support for broader participation. We are happy to support efforts to host their own version of the Alice Challenge in their school or area. Contact us and let’s talk about it!
Teachers, administrators, librarians, home-school educators, out-of-School educators, afterschool educators, mentors, coaches, and parents.
Not represented here? Please contact us.
The Alice Project is hosting free training sessions for teachers and out-of-school educators from November 2017 through January 2018. Learn more and sign up for a training session at thealiceproject.eventbrite.com. (Act 48 continuing education credits available!)
If you are unable to attend a scheduled training our would like to plan a separate training for your colleagues or staff, please contact us and we’ll find a way to get you trained.
It’s free! Free training is available to all participating educators. The Alice software is available to download for free. The student workshop event is free and open to the public. There is no entry fee to submitting to the competition.
A lot of tools and platforms for learning computer programming are either creative and 2D or 3D and puzzled based. For many students 2D just isn’t as engaging, while most of the 3D options limit students’ ability to really explore the technology.
Alice helps students learn logical and computational thinking skills and fundamental principles of programming by creating 3D animations, interactive narratives, or simple games. It's the perfect environment for students to start getting hands-on with computer science while simultaneously exploring their own creativity.
Alice is great for engaging different students with poor math or CS skills in the process through the storytelling and creative approach. But it’s a very serious learning platform too. Alice has been proven to:
- Engage more women and diverse students in the learning process through the storytelling and creative approach.
- Improve retention and performance of students with poor math or limited cs skills.
- Improve future performance in Java course by up to a whole letter grade when scaffolding between Alice and Java is used in the classroom.
Support for the Alice Challenge is provided by: