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Created in 1991, AgentSheets was one of the first block-based programming languages designed for children, while AgentCubes (inspired by AgentSheets) first appeared in 2006.

Both of these languages, intended for children, are appropriate for this portion of our web guide.

Alexander Repenning, a member of the Center for Lifelong Learning and Design at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was the lead developer of both AgentSheets and AgentCubes.

A goal for AgentSheets was to overcome the syntactic challenges of common text-based programming languages by using a drag-and-drop mechanism that conceptualized such commands as conditions and actions as editable blocks that could be composed into programs.

Originally viewed as a cyberlearning tool to teach programming and related information technology skills through game design, its drag-and-drop language is designed to be sufficiently accessible that students without programming experience could create their own Frogger-type games and publish them on the Web in their first session. At the same time, the language is powerful enough to construct Sims-like games with artificial intelligence.

To transition from visual programming to more traditional programming, students can render their games into Java source code.

Similar to a spreadsheet, an AgentSheet is a computational grid, but, unlike a spreadsheet, this grid not only contains number and strings, but also agents, which are interactive objects programmed through rules. These agents are represented by pictures, and they can be animated, make sounds, react to mouse-keyboard interactions, read web pages, and speak and recognize voice commands.

While originally intended for game design, the grid is suited to build computational science applications modeling complex scientific phenomena using up to tens of thousands of agents. The grid can be used to build agent-based simulations, such as understanding how a mudslide occurs. These abilities, along with its game development support, make for a unique computational thinking tool for computer science and STEM education.

Inspired by his previous work with AgentSheets, Alexander Repenning began working on AgentCubes in the 2000s, releasing the first version of the educational programming language in 2006.

With AgentCubes, children can create 2D and 3D online games and simulations. The main application of AgentCubes is a computational thinking tool teaching computational thinking to children through game and simulation design based on the Scalable Game Design curriculum.

An "agentcube" is a grid-based organization that is similar to a spreadsheet. It consists of rows, columns, layers, and cubes that contain stacks of programmable agents. This organization is four-dimensional and useful for creating a wide range of applications, from 1980s-style arcade games like Pac-Man to 3D games and simple agent-based models. Agents can be given user-created 3D shapes, they can compute formulae, move in the grid, change appearance, play sounds, animate themselves, and send messages to each other.

AgentCubes was developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF, which determined that if K-12 students could develop computation thinking patterns by designing games, these patterns could later be used to develop STEM simulations. The NSF has used AgentCubes Online in large teacher development projects throughout the United States and, with support from private foundations, in Mexico, Switzerland, and other countries. AgentCubes Online is currently available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Both AgentSheets and AgentCubes are proprietary products.



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