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Here is a link to a Swiss educational server site with an interesting Java programming environment that you can download. It is based on the concept of "finite state machines." You will write programs that will direct a bug to navigate through a simple, simulated world. The bug has a set of sensors which you can use to tell what is around it, and there is a fixed set of rules describing how the bug can interact with the objects in the world. For example, one possible project is to program the bug to follow a trail of leaves, eating them up as it goes along, Pac-Man style. Other possible projects can be much more sophisticated. You can see your results on the screen right away: one click and the bug starts off, following the instructions in your program. An advanced version of the program can be used to program a Lego MindStorms robot to mimic the moves of the bug. You can find out more and download the programs from:
Would you like to make your own 3-D animations? "Alice 2.0" is a drag-and-drop programming environment where you can do just that. It's a great, fun way to learn the basics of object-oriented programming.
Carnegie-Mellon University, 2006. "Alice v2.0: Learn to Program Interactive 3-D Graphics," Retrieved March 30, 2006, from http://www.alice.org.
Here are two excellent references by Bruce Eckel for those who want to learn more about object-oriented programming using either C++ or Java. Each is a full-length book, complete with code examples, that you can download for free. Bruce Eckel ha years of experience teaching both languages, and does a great job of organizing and presenting the material.
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