[Edu-sig] after-school python, age 11+

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Fri Aug 22 07:44:16 CEST 2008

You guys and kids are all so great. How would some of you like to
speak and do demos at a future PyCon? Next year will be in Chicago,
and for the year after that I am heading the bid to get it in the San
Francisco Bay Area. The other possibilities are Atlanta and Cleveland.
If you are interested, I can introduce you all to the PyCon staff and
to the OLPC Grassroots list, and we can organize something for lots of
children all over the world. There are a lot of other conferences that
should see your work up close. Software, hardware, education, economic

Also, how would you and your publishers like to have classroom-tested
Spanish and other translations of your books?

2008/8/21 Warren Sande <warren.sande at rogers.com>:
> Jeremy,
> I was at the same point a couple years ago, and reached the same
> conclusion.  Long story short, the end result is  "Hello World!  Computer
> Programming for Kids and Other Beginners"  which I wrote with my son.  It
> will be released in a few weeks.  Some edu-sig folks were involved in the
> review process (Thanks, all!)
> You can see the publisher's page here: http://www.manning.com/sande/.
> You can pre-order it on Amazon here.
> It uses Python (and Pygame and PythonCard).  Some examples are games, but
> many more are not.  It takes a fairly traditional approach to teaching
> beginning programming.  I think the presentation, writing style,
> illustrations, and examples make it suitable for kids 10 and up.  Several
> adults who reviewed it said they would use it, too, which I was really happy
> to hear.  We absolutely tried to avoid "talking down" to the reader, while
> also trying to make it fun.
> Regards,
> Warren Sande
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Jeremy Gray <jrgray at gmail.com>
> To: edu-sig at python.org
> Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 12:44:41 PM
> Subject: [Edu-sig] after-school python, age 11+
> Hi all,
> This is my first post to edu-sig, and its sort of long. In a nutshell:
> a) I have developed and posted a few new material for kids getting started
> with programming, e.g., for an after-school club, at
> http://afterschoolpython.pbwiki.com/  Its free (no advertising ever,
> open-source recommended), and will be so forever.
> b) I am interested in collaborating with or sharing notes with others, to
> make it even better.
> Being new to this interesting forum, I'll introduce myself briefly. I'm a
> dad (two kids, age 11 and 5), and have always been a geek at heart. I do
> science for a living (human brain imaging and psychology, using computers
> for everything), and have interests in education (including National Science
> Foundation grants related to education research). I'm not an elementary-age
> educator, although have family members who are educators. So it seems
> inevitable that I'd end up lurking on python edu-sig :o) I've seen some
> fairly long posts, so I'll take the plunge with a longish one myself.
> Apologies if that's frowned on.
> Basically, I want to teach my 6th grader how to program this coming year.
> We've fooled around with logo / turtle graphics and like it, and are ready
> for a real language. I was quickly sold on python as the way to go, despite
> never having used it myself (or any OO language ... or maybe in part because
> of that--I want to learn something too!). I looked around for existing
> materials, and am really impressed by how much is out there for python (one
> of several selling points). yet I did not find anything I was that
> completely happy with. I looked carefully at the following, and learned a
> lot, and like a great many things about them:
> - Snake Wrangling for Kids
> - LiveWires summer program
> - other resources linked on Beginner's Guide to Python for non-programmers
> - A byte of python
> - J. Miller's 2004 PhD dissertation. his analysis of posts on what the
> community thinks about desirable features in using python in education is
> really helpful. one point that caught my eye was the dearth of intro
> curriculum materials.
> So, I took the plunge and have started to write something up myself. Its
> well underway, but is a work in progress, at
>     http://afterschoolpython.pbwiki.com/
> My goal is to have it be an experience in learning how a computer can
> enhance your mind, using a real language, aimed at a young audience without
> talking down to them. (Young but able to read, type using a text editor, and
> do some elementary-school math). I tried to follow Miller's guidelines on
> desirable features, but have not followed them all (not yet at least,
> graphics is a glaring example).
> The key thing that motivated me to put effort into yet-another-free-resource
> for learning python was to try to focus on problem solving as enhanced by a
> computer, for this age group. Plus sneaking in some geek tidbits here and
> there, like a few linux command-line tools (e.g., top), so that they are not
> seen as exotic or weird or hard. A few of the activities are basically
> cognitive science, and a few are more or less math.
> I'm posting for two main reasons.
> 1. The first is just to say:  Hi, there is a little bit more curriculum "raw
> material" out there, I hope someone else can use it too. Who might be
> interested? My guess is that it will be most appropriate for a self-selected
> audience, rather than cp4e. I envision it being used in an after-school
> group (hence the name), probably at the middle-school level but maybe some
> things would work for advanced elementary (I'm not an educator, just
> guessing). Maybe some could be rewritten for an older audience.
> Some of the activities are tried and true ("hello world!"), and some are
> ones I thought up, like counting to a million to give kids a gut sense for
> how fast computers are, described as turning yourself into a cyborg,
> counting to a million in one second, and then changing back. I want kids to
> see themselves as the agent that makes things happen, not the computer. At
> first its a little freaky that way, but I hope its ultimately more
> empowering as well. And I think it better reflects reality: a computer is a
> tool, a prosthesis for thinking. Like a bicycle is for transportation.
> I describe it as currently in "beta", meaning that, while there are some
> rough edges, the ideas and activities might be useful to others even so.
> Feedback would be very useful to have now to make it better. Again, it will
> never have advertising.
> Its currently set up as a wiki, under a Creative Commons
> Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License 2.0, which I used because _A
> byte of python_ used it. I have it as wiki to emphasize that I'd love to
> include others as hands-on contributors (see #2).
> 2. The second reason for this post is to say:  I know it can be way better.
> I think its good enough that I can wing it through the fall, but it would be
> cool to partner with a) people who have elementary & middle-school education
> experience with programming (esp python), and b) know OO and good projects
> for introducing it. I know the website is currently just the start of what
> it could be. It currently reads like notes for either self-guided
> exploration by kids, but given various gaps in the description (hopefully
> filled soon) its probably best thought of as structured notes for an
> informed adult to use when leading a small group of kids. Its not complete
> yet, and I will be revising after seeing how kids interact with it. Its not
> lesson plans, although I could see some of the material being used in that
> way, with more work.
> - feedback of any kind would be terrific, don't hold back just to be polite.
> (As a scientist, all my day-job work gets peer reviewed, at times "tersely",
> shall we say. it took some getting used to but now I love getting frank
> feedback because ultimately it makes for a better product.) So if anything
> moves you one way or another, I'd love to know and won't be offended. This
> is not to say I'll change things to reflect every comment, of course, but I
> definitely promise to read and consider them all closely. More importantly,
> if you have a lot to add, I'd love to have collaborators as well.
> - I've set it up as a wiki with the idea that eventually there may be
> several editors, developers, and caretakers (a few, not the whole world).
> Please email me to talk about possibilities. For example, currently, there's
> nothing that uses graphics, which of course are very engaging, especially
> for this age group. currently, there's nothing that uses or explains OO,
> despite python being strongly OO. getting to games would be good. And I'm
> not convinced that being hosted on pbwiki is best, either. So there's room
> to grow as well.
> to comment on anything, you can either email me personally
> (jrgray at gmail.com, which is the same email for the wiki owner) or just leave
> a comment at the end of a particular wiki page (I think they make you sign
> up for an account an login to leave a comment).
> Anyway, its nice to be joining this community.
> best regards,
> --Jeremy
> /*-------------------------------------------------------------
>       Jeremy R. Gray, PhD
>       Assistant Professor, Yale University
>       Dept. of Psychology & Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program
>       web        http://www.yale.edu/scan/
> -------------------------------------------------------------*/
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Silent Thunder [ 默雷 / शब्दगर्ज ] is my name,
And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place,
And Truth my destination.

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