• June 6, 2019

    8th grader places first in the Alice Challenge

    Mahesh Lakshminarayanan Fort Couch Middle School eighth grader Mahesh Lakshminarayanan recently placed first in the Alice Challenge, Middle School Good Neighbor category. The Alice Challenge is a computer programming competition for students in grades 6-12.

    According to its website, “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.”

    The challenge was comprised of three competition categories including Animation, Game and Good Neighbor. Student submissions were judged in two divisions, a Middle Division for students in grades 6, 7 and 8 and an Upper Division for students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.

    Inspired by the legacy of Fred Rogers, the Good Neighbor category is about creating experiences for social good. The title of Mahesh’s project is “Mr. Hatter please love children.” According the Mahesh, it tells the story of how Mr. Hatter was bullying children and making fun of them. The lion saw what was happening and decided to teach the mad hatter a lesson.

    “I got most of the lion God’s quotes from the Bhagavad Gita, which is a Hindu scripture,” Mahesh said. “After the lion teaches a lesson to the mad hatter, then the hatter becomes nice to children. This came into my mind because I read a lot of Hindu scriptures and it says to be kind, take deep breaths and (defines) what is good, okay and bad.”

    Submissions were judged by professional game designers and industry experts on creativity, visual presentation and technical implementation. Good Neighbor entries are also rated on impact potential.

    Mahesh, along with the other winners of each category, will be recognized at the Finalists Showcase and award ceremony on June 12, 2019, at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center.

    This marks the second year of the Alice Challenge, which was open to all students in grades 6-12 in the Pittsburgh region including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Students could participate as individuals or in a team of up to four students.