[Edu-sig] Edu-sig page advice to teachers

Ruzycki, Nancy J njruzycki at seattleschools.org
Wed Jan 13 15:08:03 CET 2010

Kirby, and Maria-

We use scratch and also python for physics programming, and the choice is based not on youth, but on ease of computing.  In scratch, it is easier for the students to "see" the parts of the program they can use to create a program, whereas in python, a student has to have some programming background, or a good teaching template. In mu class, we only have about a week every 10 weeks or so to program.  

Scratch can be used to create some fairly complicated programs including kinematics (1D and 2D) and vector analysis.  Examples of what we do are programming an object to accelerate and stamping as it goes to create a type of motion map, having objects fall with the correct acceleration of gravity. Throwing objects (up or down) and stamping realistic falls.  Racing cars with different accelerations, etc.  You can also do nice circular motion mapping.  

I tried to step up to python programming for 1-d motion and it was not as successful a visualization tool as in Scratch. Maybe using Turtle would have been better. The project becomes more about the programming than about the physics concepts. In scratch, owing to ease of use, the physics concepts are more easily visualized.  

If my class were more advanced computationally, or we had a course in mathematical programming, then I think the python would be really nice. My students are low income, urban public school students, and any exposure to programming including scratch is an epiphany for them.  

Nancy Ruzycki

-----Original Message-----
From: edu-sig-bounces+njruzycki=seattleschools.org at python.org on behalf of kirby urner
Sent: Tue 1/12/2010 7:59 PM
To: edu-sig at python.org
Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Edu-sig page advice to teachers
[ thread moved to edu-sig ]

> On Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 4:37 AM, Maria Droujkova <droujkova at gmail.com> wrote:

>> Some of my kids are about to start using Python for our Physics and
>> Modeling, up from Scratch. I am scared to death and still have not selected
>> a version for them. All of them run Windows and Mac OS.
>> Cheers,
>> Maria Droujkova
>> http://www.naturalmath.com
>> Make math your own, to make your own math.
> Hi Maria --
> I am wondering what Physics and Modeling is like.  From a programming
> point of view, I imagine a clock or time increment is usually
> involved, which means a loop of some kind.  As time ticks by, this or
> that happens to objects.
> Here's a somewhat generic way of thinking about "objects in time":
> http://www.4dsolutions.net/ocn/alien.html  (meant to be user-friendly
> and conversational, against the backdrop of ongoing arguments on a
> math teacher list -- I think you know the one).
> As to which version of Python, a lot depends on if students want to
> use something extra besides bare Python.  If not, then 3.1 and above.
> Your students seem rather young in this picture, if just moving from Scratch?
> It would be interesting to get some more details if you have the time
> to spare.  And fear not, you will find much that is fun and rewarding
> in this next chapter.
> Kirby
> PS:  I notice Carl Trachte is beginning to explore the new format
> specifiers in his first two blog posts of 2010:
> http://pyright.blogspot.com/
> Note that in 2.6 one has the ability to go:  from __future__ import
> print_function
> Plus it runs everything 2.5 and below.  That's why I suggest the
> edu-sig web page make 2.6 something like the earliest Python you'd
> want to use for educational purposes.  That'd be generic advice
> suitable for Python.org web site.  Of course teachers on the front
> lines will have their own reasons for doing what they do.
>>> The scenario I've pushed (sometimes practice):
>>> spatial geometry in a Python-endowed math class, is
>>> still esoteric, avant-garde.  Not sure anyone is doing
>>> it.
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