[Edu-sig] re: Whither PyGeo

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Tue Nov 2 10:13:56 CET 2004

John writes

>I've never had the opportunity to play with PyGeo, partly because
>wasn't a particular need to, and partly because I was waiting for it to 
>arrive at a newer release state. However, there is a *possibility* (not 
>yet even a probability) that I'll be able to begin teaching beginning 
>Python programming to middle schoolers either in Feb. or Sept. 2005. 
>So, I'm casting about for materials to use, and PyGeo would definitely 
>be on my list if Arthur were able to whip it into shape for release. 

Not if.  When :)

>So, this message is meant primarily as one of encouragement to make a 
>newer version available that incorporates all of its improvements. But 
>also I'm wondering if there are any underlying issues with PyGeo, as 
>it's evolved, that would benefit from a discussion here? (I guess I'm 
>primarily wondering about its suitability for younger beginning 
>programmers, its API, etc.)

Its API is simple enough.  

Its educational value for younger beginning programmers less clear.

On the plus side, I think it gives them a context they may already have some 
grounding in, in which to experiment.  But that context is geometry - which, 
incredibly, some folks might find yucky. 

I would argue that geometry has some legs as foundational in education. And 
that until someone comes up with something convincing as the foundational educational 
concept of the New Millenium, that we might give some serious consideration to 
sticking with the classics. 

And I would argue that there is a connection between geometry, as the classical foundation of 
logical reasoning,  and programming, as its (or "a") productive modern incarnation, that is profound 
and intriguing - and that while young folks might not explicitly understand the connection 
I am trying to make here, I am hoping that at some level they might *feel* it.

With he added self-referential factor, that in working on computer screens, on is working within
the land of applied geometry/programming.

I'm an old Literature major. For things to work, they need to work at different levels, 

That said, all that is fully clear about PyGeo's educational value, and said with any confidence,
is not dissimilar to that of many such projects.  The educational value of building it has been profound.  
But I've hogged that, I'm afraid.

FWIW, the greatest challenge I face it getting it out there in a way
its potential might be fairly explored are cross platform packaging and
distribution issues.

I won't go into the details of what I see as the issues.

I will say/announce that I have decided to take a clue from Mark Shuttleworth and offer a $ bounty
to anyone with the right background who would willing to assist me here.

Anyone interested in discussing this can contact me either through the list or privately at
ajsiegel at optonline.com.

Thanks John for giving me the opportunity to expand a bit on a favorite topic.


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