[Edu-sig] Retrospective: Our Open Source class including Python

David Handy david at handysoftware.com
Fri Jul 16 17:14:03 CEST 2004

On Fri, 16 Jul 2004, Kirby Urner wrote:

> Saturday Academy is a nonprofit working with high school aged and younger
> students looking for experiences that take them outside the usual classroom
> fare, giving them exposure to working engineers, artists, scientists,
> musicians or whatever flies (and passes quality control).  I consider it a
> privilege to work with this outfit, spearheaded by Joyce et al out of
> Portland State University.

I grew up in the Portland area. I am a Saturday Academy "alumni" from the
1980's. It's a great program.

> Regarding Python, I'd be
> especially interested in feedback on my paper under the Background
> subdirectory (the PDF).  I wrote it partly in response to Ryan's request for
> more theory.  I also just fixed a typo (added a 'd', changed version from
> 1.1 to 1.2).

Since operations in Python are normally accessed via built-in operators
versus explicit method calls, and since you don't normally subclass int or
float, I would not have led off my discussion of types and objects by
using int and float as examples. Those types are more the exception than 
the rule, as far as how you use them.

I think leading off with the Mammal class, hippo instance would have been 
more clear, and then afterwards say, "oh by the way, *everything* is an 
object, even int. Look at this:

>>> (3).__add__(4)

See, you can even call methods on 3."

> The kids were very engaged and learned a lot.  The course was considered a
> success and we're planning to offer it again in the fall, although Jerritt
> is moving out of town shortly, so the chemistry and configuration will be
> different.  This was a really good episode.
> Kirby
> Website:  http://www.4dsolutions.net/satacad/

Good stuff. I liked the scissors-paper-rock object lesson on why you want 
access to the source! With the youth I am teaching, I'm trying to use 
extending (and possibly "cheating") on a multi-player game as motivation. 
He/she who can code gets the advantage, knows the hidden commands that 
refuels your ship, etc.

David H.

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