[Edu-sig] using Python as a calculator

Daniel Ajoy da.ajoy at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 22:37:29 CEST 2010

On Sat, 10 Apr 2010 11:23:23 -0500, <edu-sig-request at python.org> wrote:

> I humbly disagree that this is the right place to start.  I teach
> students with diverse backgrounds -- some extremely bright and others
> really behind in school and using Python as a calculator is one thing
> they would all agree is terrifically boring and not so compelling.
> How many students have ever said "man, I really wish I had a trig
> table right now?"

What kind of things do you think kids would find exciting about programming?

I've identified these things:

Turtle Graphics
Sprite Animations
Virtual Robot programming
Number crunching
Make the computer do your homework

In "number crunching" I try to collect all the things that excite students about making the computer show its awesome powers of calculation. I think there is an element of excitement in making a program that makes the computer work a lot to produce results. Maybe, that table falls into this category.

I have the impression that using a programming language as a calculator is boring, too.

But if we use it to help us solve homework I think it becomes interesting.

Thinks like, solve:

(x + 2) / 10 = 100

to solve
 do.while [
  make "x random 1000
 ] [not (:x + 2) / 10 = 100]
 print :x



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