[Edu-sig] Elevator Demo for Python

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Oct 5 23:31:38 CEST 2009

On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 1:24 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 4:58 PM, Phil Wagner <pwagner at hightechhigh.org> wrote:
>> Often I am asked for a quick demonstration about the power of Python,
>> sometimes for people with no computer science background. What can I show
>> them that doesn't take too much time but gets the point across that Python
>> is a good fit for math/education?
> The two Python-programmable tiles in Turtle Art, one for expressions,
> and one for arbitrary programs that can be created and tested in
> Pippy.

For those who might not know:

Pippy is akin to IDLE but designed to run with Sugar, the OLPC OS
developed for the XO, an esoteric piece of machinery that's a rarity
in the Lower48, not to mention elsewhere in the world.

I have a lending library with two of them.

I mostly won't lend them to anyone over 10-12 in age as when it comes
to One Laptop per Child, adults take a back seat.

> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Activities/Turtle_Art#Programmable_Brick
> http://tonyforster.blogspot.com/2009/02/using-python-blocks-in-turtleart.html
> I just gave a presentation on this and Pippy to a group of children,
> parents, and teachers at Silicon Valley Code Camp.
> I need to write an article on all of this with math, physics, and
> Computer Science examples, and share it here. For example, I have a
> graphing program in TA, where users can change the function in the
> Python tile, and if necessary the ranges, and graph any function. We
> can work up from there through the Pippy examples, Sugar Activity
> source code, and on up to NumPy and SciPy.
> Of course, we can do much the same with Smalltalk, Logo/LISP, APL/J,
> and other languages that provide decent numeric capabilities (built-in
> or through libraries), and also sufficiently flexible data structures.
> I leave the argument about which is Best to others. My notion is that
> all children should be exposed to at least three or four languages of
> radically different kinds. I would prefer not to raise another
> generation of programmers with nothing in their toolboxes other than a
> single hammer, no matter how big. %-[

Although Logo/LISP is a correct grouping by language family, Logo is a
far cry from a full implementation of LISP.

Also, J is significantly different from APL, just just in terms of
using ASCII instead of those non-Latin-1 operators, however once again
the family grouping is correct.

I have a paper on J at my website that the late Kenneth Iverson helped
me with, in terms of catching a few errors.

I favor J as my other language besides Python, buying into the premise
that we want a minimum of two languages for projecting around the
campfire (girl scouts or whatever -- boys too sometimes).

> "I invented Object-Oriented Programming, and C++ is not what I had in
> mind."--Alan Kay

Good thing we have C++ though, with Python bindings ala Boost.


> "The best way to predict the future is to prevent it."--Alan Kay

Good thing Alan failed to prevent C++.  He'd probably never have come
up with C# either.

I enjoyed meeting Alan for 2.5 days, with plenty of breaks, well
treated by The Shuttleworth Foundation, me more as Guido's side kick.

I also came via having given a talk to London Knowledge Lab (LKL),
whereas Guido had recently been a guest of Goldman & Sachs I think it
was (adding a decimal type made Python more usable in the financial
world where the IEEE floating point standard isn't insufficient for
serious accounting work).

Some of the tidbits I learned about Alan:

(a) he had a healthy respect for JavaScript, and that focus has proved
prescient, as I mention in my blog.  I also dig up this paragraph,
perhaps no longer as true as it once was (posted April13, 2007)?

Alan Kay of Smalltalk fame, friend of Seymour Papert of Logo, champion
of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) has become our new keynote speaker
(EuroPython by transmission) and provider of new hope to many a would
be Python learner. That's right, Alan has adopted Python as his new
pet language, or so he told us at the Shuttleworth Summit in London
last April, hosted by Mark (Shuttleworth) in hopes of taking what's
right about the CP4E dream, and adapting it for his home country of
South Africa where it became the Kusasa Project (kusasa.org).

(b) It was more the immersive environment than any specific
implementation that drew his focus and attention i.e. he wasn't
ideologically committed to Smalltalk above all languages or anything
like that.


>>  Phil
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> --
> Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
> Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
> The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
> http://earthtreasury.org/
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