Velocity Reviews - Computer Hardware Reviews

Velocity Reviews > Newsgroups > Programming > Python > Python in High School

Reply
Thread Tools

Python in High School

 
 
marion@everautumn.com
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-03-2008
On Apr 1, 1:27*pm, sprad <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> I'm a high school computer teacher, and I'm starting a series of
> programming courses next year (disguised as "game development" classes
> to capture more interest). The first year will be a gentle
> introduction to programming, leading to two more years of advanced
> topics.
>
> I was initially thinking about doing the first year in Flash/
> ActionScript, and the later years in Java. My reasoning is that Flash
> has the advantage of giving a quick payoff to keep the students
> interested while I sneak in some OOP concepts through ActionScript.
> Once they've gotten a decent grounding there, they move on to Java for
> some more heavy-duty programming.
>
> I've never used Python, but I keep hearing enough good stuff about it
> to make me curious.
>
> So -- would Python be a good fit for these classes? Could it equal
> Java as the later heavy-duty language? Does it have enough quickly-
> accessible sparklies to unseat Flash?
>
> I want to believe. Evangelize away.


I am a strong support of teaching programming in middle and high
school. Kids have the potential of being more than just passive
consumers of other programmers work. That is best illustrated by the
growth of game mod'rs writing their own levels for computer games.

I think I agree with all of the positive, supporting posts about
Python. I would just like to add that Python (and PyGame) are open
source and so your students can download it at home and have fun
exploring it on their own time (at their own pace). I think that is a
real positive.
 
Reply With Quote
 
 
 
 
ajaksu
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-03-2008
On Apr 2, 5:01*pm, John Henry <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> However, once I start teaching him variables, expressions, loops, and
> what not, I found that (by surprise) he had great difficulties
> catching on. *Not soon after that, we had to quit.


This makes me curious: how much of videogamer are you? And your son?

I ask that because when I think about teaching programming to young
kids, I imagine using terms they know from gaming, like "save
slots" (variables/names), "memory cards" (containers),
"combos" (functions, loops), "life meters" (counters), "next
level" (conditionals, iteration, loops), "teammates" (helper
functions), "character classes" and "characters" (class and
instances), "confirm/cancel" (conditionals), etc.

But I've never really tried to put all those together and find a test
subject, so I'd like to know how fluent in this lingo you both were so
I can assess my pseudo-didatic approach by proxy

Regards,
Daniel
 
Reply With Quote
 
 
 
 
John Henry
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-04-2008
On Apr 3, 12:24 pm, ajaksu <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On Apr 2, 5:01 pm, John Henry <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > However, once I start teaching him variables, expressions, loops, and
> > what not, I found that (by surprise) he had great difficulties
> > catching on. Not soon after that, we had to quit.

>
> This makes me curious: how much of videogamer are you? And your son?
>


You mean you are able to find a kid that isn't a videogamer these
days? <grin>

My level of videogame went as far as Black Hawk Down and that was
about it. I find it hard to comprehand why they like to do Gaiter
Hero III. With Counter Strike, at least you have some interesting
scene to look at. But then again, I am not a kid anymore (not by a
long stretch).


> I ask that because when I think about teaching programming to young
> kids, I imagine using terms they know from gaming, like "save
> slots" (variables/names), "memory cards" (containers),
> "combos" (functions, loops), "life meters" (counters), "next
> level" (conditionals, iteration, loops), "teammates" (helper
> functions), "character classes" and "characters" (class and
> instances), "confirm/cancel" (conditionals), etc.
>
> But I've never really tried to put all those together and find a test
> subject, so I'd like to know how fluent in this lingo you both were so
> I can assess my pseudo-didatic approach by proxy
>
> Regards,
> Daniel


Well, I can't say that I am a child education expert, I am only
commenting base on my last several years of volunteering activities.
I've found that whenever there is a visual approach to a topic, I can
hold their attention far longer. Case in point, rather than asking to
read building instructions for a Lego robot, I gave them access to
Leocad: a CAD program that allow them to "put together" a robot
virtually. They can spin the virtual robot around, break-up the
pieces virtually, and put them the robot virtually. Then they build
the real thing from there. When they're done, they can made their
product presentation using 3-D renderization programs (VPython stuff,
I can see now). With this approach, I was able to hold the attentions
of the middle school kids - even a couple of 4th graders. They were
able to "program" their robots using the Lego Mindstorm ICONic
programming language - and later onto the Labview based Robolab
language. I think the color, the sound, the icons, videos of these
visual programming languages means a lot to kids. I wish there is a
visual Python - much like the Robolab/Labview approach to programming.

Several of the kids continued to stay involved with our activities for
several years. I was able to teach them "programming" without really
really teaching them "programming". I hope they do well in high
school. But then they told me the first "computer programming" class
at the local high school will be teaching Office, Flash, ...

Of the 18 middle-schools in our district, ours was the only one that
taught the kids about computer applications and "programming" early.
Unfortunately, due to budget cut, they had no choice but to cut that
class (lack of staff). And without a teacher sponsoring our
activities, my volunteering activity is also coming to a close.

But I sure learned a lot about how kids learn (and can't learn).
 
Reply With Quote
 
John Henry
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-04-2008
On Apr 3, 10:17 am, Stef Mientki <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >> Well I doubt it's the visual environment that makes it more easy,
> >> color, shape and position can give some extra information though.
> >> I think apriori domain knowledge and flattness of information are of far
> >> more importance.
> >> The first issue is covered quit well by Robolab / Labview,
> >> but the second issue certainly is not.
> >> I'm right now working on a Labview like editor in Python,
> >> which does obey the demand for flatness of information.
> >> The first results can be seen here:http://oase.uci.kun.nl/~mientki/data..._animations_sc...

>
> >> cheers,
> >> Stef Mientki

>
> >>> And you are going to teach them Java? Oh, please don't. Let the
> >>> colleges torture them. :=)

>
> > What do you mean by flatness of information?

>
> What I mean is something like; all the information at a certain
> abstraction level is visible on one screen or one piece of paper,
> and not is available through multiple screen / multiple right-clicks
> etc. A wizard in general is an example of strong non-flatness of
> information (try adding a mail-account in Thunderbird, this could
> easily be put on 1 page, which clearly would give a much better overview).
>
> cheers,
> Stef


In that sense, it would appear to me Robolab/Labview would do exactly
that. Most of the programs I taught the kids to do fits on one
screen.

I think what you are doing is very interesting because Robolab does a
fair amount of what I am seeing from your screen shots (for simple
applications anyway). One day when you finish with the program, may
be I can try it on my younger kid.

 
Reply With Quote
 
Bruno Desthuilliers
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-04-2008
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) a écrit :
(snip)
> I think I agree with all of the positive, supporting posts about
> Python. I would just like to add that Python (and PyGame) are open
> source


And run on most common platforms AFAIK.

> and so your students can download it at home and have fun
> exploring it on their own time (at their own pace). I think that is a
> real positive.


Indeed.
 
Reply With Quote
 
Aahz
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-04-2008
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Jan Claeys <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>There are at least 3 books about game programming in python:
><http://www.amazon.com/Game-Programming-Line-Express-Learning/dp/0470068221>


STAY AWAY

Speaking as half of the tech-editing team for this book (the formal title
is _Game Programming: The L Line, The Express Line to Learning_), I
recommend staying as far as possible from this book. It does an okay job
of teaching pygame, but it does a poor job of teaching Python (for
example, it does not mention dicts) and therefore has a number of flaws
from a pedagogical perspective, *plus* there are some bugs in the code.
--
Aahz ((E-Mail Removed)) <*> http://www.pythoncraft.com/

"It is easier to optimize correct code than to correct optimized code."
--Bill Harlan
 
Reply With Quote
 
Jan Claeys
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      04-21-2008
Op Thu, 03 Apr 2008 00:06:34 -0700, schreef Dennis Lee Bieber:

> On Thu, 03 Apr 2008 03:37:43 GMT, Jan Claeys <(E-Mail Removed)> declaimed
> the following in comp.lang.python:
>
>> Later I learned C (and even later C++), and I've always been wondering
>> why those languages were making simple things so complicated...

>
> Could it be that they are closer to being high-level assembly
> languages meant to get close to the hardware (especially of the PDP
> series that C originated on), whereas Pascal was designed to just be a
> language meant for teaching algorithms and programming, not originally
> intended for production efforts?


Pointers in Borland's Pascal (and FreePascal) are bare machine pointers,
with optional typing for the referenced value; I've never seen anything
you could do with C pointers that you couldn't do with Borland Pascal
pointers. (And I think the reason why pointers in C looked complicated
is that the C syntax for pointers is inconsistent...)


--
JanC
 
Reply With Quote
 
 
 
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
UR SCHOOL AND COLLEGE'S, PLEASE REGISTER UR SCHOOL AND COLLEGE NAME'SIN THIS SITE. "" IF U HAVE TIME THEN DO IT. PLEASE I REQUEST. """ jack Python 0 06-07-2008 06:34 AM
Motivating high-school students to join college after completing high school m1@mailinator.com Computer Support 4 08-13-2007 04:00 AM
The Old School Meet's The New School. CoreyWhite C++ 0 03-23-2007 07:01 PM
The Old School Meet's The New School. CoreyWhite C Programming 0 03-23-2007 07:01 PM
Office Certification for High School Students? Jack Barrett Microsoft Certification 2 10-01-2003 07:19 PM



Advertisments