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Python in High School

 
 
sprad
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      04-01-2008
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.
 
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mdomans
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      04-01-2008
Python needs no evangelizing but I can tell you that it is a powerfull
tool. I prefer to think that flash is rather visualization tool than
programing language, and java needs a lot of typing and a lot of
reading. On the other hand python is simple to read and write, can be
debuged easily, is intuitive and saves a lot of time. It also supports
batteries included policy and you can't get more OO than python.
 
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Bruno Desthuilliers
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      04-01-2008
sprad a écrit :
> 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?


IMHO, yes, definitively - except that it won't introduce concepts like
static typing and primitive types, since it's dynamically typed and 100%
object. OTHO, it'll let you introduce quite a lot of more advanced
topics (operator overloading, metaclasses, higher-order functions,
closures, partial application etc) that you're less likely to grasp
using Java.

> Could it equal
> Java as the later heavy-duty language?


If you mean "is it possible to use Python to write real-world,
non-trivial applications", then the answer is obviously yes. Python's
use range from Q&D admin script to full-blown web application server
including vector graphic GUI apps, scientific data analysis and plotting
and game developpment and/or scripting.

> Does it have enough quickly-
> accessible sparklies to unseat Flash?


Since you plan to lure poor schoolboys in by pretending to teach them
game programming, you may want to have a look at pygame:

http://www.pygame.org/news.html

> I want to believe. Evangelize away.


"Then I saw Pygame, now I'm a believer".... !-)
 
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sprad
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      04-01-2008
On Apr 1, 11:41 am, mdomans <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Python needs no evangelizing but I can tell you that it is a powerfull
> tool. I prefer to think that flash is rather visualization tool than
> programing language, and java needs a lot of typing and a lot of
> reading. On the other hand python is simple to read and write, can be
> debuged easily, is intuitive and saves a lot of time. It also supports
> batteries included policy and you can't get more OO than python.


One advantage of Flash is that we can have something moving on the
screen from day one, and add code to it piece by piece for things like
keyboard or mouse control, more and more complex physics, etc. Is
there an equivalent project in Python?
 
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Bruno Desthuilliers
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      04-01-2008
sprad a écrit :
> On Apr 1, 11:41 am, mdomans <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> Python needs no evangelizing but I can tell you that it is a powerfull
>> tool. I prefer to think that flash is rather visualization tool than
>> programing language, and java needs a lot of typing and a lot of
>> reading. On the other hand python is simple to read and write, can be
>> debuged easily, is intuitive and saves a lot of time. It also supports
>> batteries included policy and you can't get more OO than python.

>
> One advantage of Flash is that we can have something moving on the
> screen from day one, and add code to it piece by piece for things like
> keyboard or mouse control, more and more complex physics, etc. Is
> there an equivalent project in Python?


see my other answer in this thread.
 
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Paddy
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-01-2008
On Apr 1, 6:27 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.


How proficient are you in Flash/Actionscript?
I suggest you try out Python/Pygame and extrapolate from that,
given your available time, would you be proficient enough to teach
it?

- Paddy.
 
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Laurent Pointal
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      04-01-2008
Le Tue, 01 Apr 2008 12:35:46 -0700, Paddy a écritÂ*:

> On Apr 1, 6:27 pm, sprad <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

<zip>
>>
>> I want to believe. Evangelize away.

>
> How proficient are you in Flash/Actionscript? I suggest you try out
> Python/Pygame and extrapolate from that, given your available time,
> would you be proficient enough to teach it?


And if you want to do easy and simple 3D graphics programming, look at
VPython

http://www.vpython.org/





--
Laurent POINTAL - http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
 
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André
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-01-2008
On Apr 1, 3:09 pm, Bruno Desthuilliers <bruno.
(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> sprad a écrit :
>
>
>
> > 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?

>
> IMHO, yes, definitively - except that it won't introduce concepts like
> static typing and primitive types, since it's dynamically typed and 100%
> object. OTHO, it'll let you introduce quite a lot of more advanced
> topics (operator overloading, metaclasses, higher-order functions,
> closures, partial application etc) that you're less likely to grasp
> using Java.
>
> > Could it equal
> > Java as the later heavy-duty language?

>
> If you mean "is it possible to use Python to write real-world,
> non-trivial applications", then the answer is obviously yes. Python's
> use range from Q&D admin script to full-blown web application server
> including vector graphic GUI apps, scientific data analysis and plotting
> and game developpment and/or scripting.
>
> > Does it have enough quickly-
> > accessible sparklies to unseat Flash?

>
> Since you plan to lure poor schoolboys in by pretending to teach them
> game programming, you may want to have a look at pygame:
>
> http://www.pygame.org/news.html
>
> > I want to believe. Evangelize away.

>
> "Then I saw Pygame, now I'm a believer".... !-)


There is also pyglet which is quite impressive and easy to use.

André
 
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Basilisk96
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-01-2008
On Apr 1, 12:27 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 highly recommend that you read the introduction chapters in two of
the books on this site: http://www.greenteapress.com/

The first book is called "How To Think Like a Computer Scientist:
Learning with Python".
The second book is a follow-up edition to that one, and is called "How
To Think Like a (Python) Programmer".

All of the books there are written by school teachers, so I think you
will find valuable insight there. The same books also have a Java and
a C++ flavor. All are free downloads.

My very first serious look into Python came from this series, and I
thoroughly enjoyed learning the basics. I think the text was so
successful for me because the content is well-connected.

As far as which language to choose - well, you can make the choice
yourself after reading at least the introductions of all the books. If
you do decide on Python, there is a library called "pygame" that may
achieve your visual game programming goals.

Enjoy!
-Basilisk96
 
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Gabriel Rossetti
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Posts: n/a
 
      04-02-2008
sprad 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 think it's a good idea (to use python), Mr. Swinnen, a high school
teacher in Belgium wrote a book out of the course that he created for
his programming class : Apprendre à programmer avec Python, 2e édition,
O'Reilly. His course was originally a translation of Allen B. Downey's
Open-source book (see : http://www.greenteapress.com/free_books.html).

I think this is proof of concept, no?

Gabriel
 
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