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Help For My Granddaughter Please!


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#1 floyd

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 12:10 PM

I have an almost 13 year old granddaughter that is very good with logic puzzles and loves the computer and stated an interest in learning how to program games.
While I know my way around the PC, I've never done much in the line of programming. I am considering on buying her for Christmas a beginners guide to C++. My thinking is if she's going to learn she might as well gain some real life experience she can use as opposed to getting her a book on basic or something like that.
My question is two fold to you programmers. Is C++ going to be too difficult for a kid her age? And secondly any other recommendations for a simple C++ book or other suggestions if I'm not on the right path thinking about C++. I did find the MS visual C++ compiler that I downloaded for her and a beginners video from the MS website to supplement the book.
Any help will really be a appreciated.
Floyd

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#2 groovicus

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 08:20 AM

All kids want to program games, and they can if they stick to really, really simple games; unfortunately most kids think that they can code Halo 3 after two weeks. I think any language is appropriate as long as there is someone willing to help, otherwise a thirteen year old is likely to get frustrated and give up and lose interest in programming all together, which would be tragic because so few girls are interested in computers at all. Programming is boring to learn because all you learn is little bits and pieces at first, and it takes a while before one gets to start putting the bits and pieces together.

If I might suggest a different path? I use a program called Alice to teach middle-school aged children basic programming concepts. The software is free from Alice.org, and children can see results within a few minutes. It's basically a program that allows drag-and-drop manipulation of 3d objects, and there is no need to worry about the underlying program. I use a book called "Starting Out With Alice" that teaches both how to use the program, and various programming concepts. Once they learn how to use Alice, their interest is usually high enough that they will want to learn the underlying programming, and then they will have sufficient enough interest to learn because they have already seen the concepts in action.

The book costs about $60 and comes with Alice on a disk, along with quite a few tutorials. You can download it yourself from the website and check it out if you like. (Alice, not the book)

EDIT: I forgot to mention that once your grand-daughter learns how to use Alice, she can make games and animations with it.

#3 floyd

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 10:58 AM

groovicus, thank you very much for your insightful reply. I went to Alice and it might be just the answer. My question is will it take her a long time to work through that book, and when she does then do we send her toward a beginners C++, basic, Visual basic or what would you recommend.
Rachel is home schooled so she is more pre-disposed and self disciplined than most kids probably are to working alone at her own pace.
Thank you again.
Floyd

#4 groovicus

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 11:18 AM

I guess it depends what she wants to to with it. Certainly there are many high-schools that teach Visual Basic, but I don't know of too many colleges that use it. My experience though is in the realm of computer science and bioinformatics, and we see mostly Java and C++. I suppose in schools that emphasize software engineering, one may see VB, but I don't know. So the answer to your question about language is , it depends. There are tons of languages, and everybody has an opinion about easiest. I happen to like Java because I learned it after failing to learn with other languages. If that language happened to have been c++, I probably would have said the same about it. I think the best language to learn is one where there is tons of documentation available, and plenty of available help.

EDIT: The length of time it takes for her to work through the book depends on how much time she spends on it. She could spend several weeks just goofing around with the application without ever opening the book. There are also many other books about Alice, as well as online tutorials. The books only serve as an overview of programming, and the application can be used to make relatively complex games if one so desires. I guess what I am trying to say that it is one thing to learn basic programming, it is another to actually use the concepts inside Alice in a meaningful way. I would say after 6 months that she should have a decent overview of programming, and should have the curiosity to discover other things on her own.

#5 floyd

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 11:51 AM

groovicus, thanks again. I looked at the tutorial and I think Alice is just what she needs. With the help of the home schooled mom, she'll get the help and direction needed.
Now one last request. I may be dense but I cannot find the link on the web page to buy the package. I found a whole list of books but would prefer it packaged together. If that's not possible could you tell me which of the books you'd recommend.
Thanks again
Floyd

#6 groovicus

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 02:31 PM

You don't have to buy the package. It comes free (assuming that you mean the software) . I got the book through Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Out-Alice-I...5195&sr=8-1

It doesn't say that the CD is included with the book, and I didn't know it had the CD when I ordered it. The lessons in the book use the tutorials on the disk.

#7 Dialer

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 03:43 PM

This looks like a really interesting program and concept, groovicus, and I think I'll explore it a little, myself, since I'm especially interested in 3D graphics. Looks like a great gift for your granddaughter, Floyd!

With the help of the home schooled mom, she'll get the help and direction needed.

While on the site, I noticed what appears to be a fairly active forum, so there's yet another source for support.

#8 Keithuk

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 09:10 PM

Well I'm a bit biased to Visual Basic I've been using it your 13 years. When I wanted to learn a programming language and I spoke to people they all suggested VC++ which is Microsoft's version of C++. Well I bought it for £90, 13 years ago and I couldn't get into it for love or money. Thatís because Visual Basic is that simple to use and programme.

If you want to use VB.Net then its free to download from Microsoft. But I can't see how you can download a 2.57Mb file, how can that be enough to install a working version. :thumbsup:

There is far more support for VB6 than there is for VB.Net because its been going for 17 years. If it was that bad why as it been going for 17 years?

If you want VB6 then I would suggest you do a search on eBay there are plenty of copies on there but I would suggest you get a copy that includes the MSDN help disks as well. :flowers:

Keith

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