[Edu-sig] Education Room (Pycon 2013)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Jul 11 08:45:24 CEST 2012

Vern and I have been chatting off list about his plans for an
Education Room (ER? -- name collision) at Pycon 2013 (US).

I've been thinking of exhibits, independently of the poster space,
giving a sense of Python's span, as well has history, vis-a-vis the
education systems.

We've talked about Raspberry Pi and the RaspberryJam meetups these
inspire, and OLPC -- I thought we should exhibit an XO tablet or two,
running Sugar.  Could we have those as prizes?

Vern talked about his sense, chatting with educators, that we still
lack a great set of resources for K-12 use.  'Mathematics for the
Digital Age' is great, but couldn't we have more along these lines?

'How To Think Like a Computer Scientist' has also come a long way
since Jeffrey Elkner helped bring it into Python culture, where it has


I find myself recommending it to students pretty often.

Regarding the future of Python in K-12, I think there are other
discussions going on that will have an impact.

STEM is a buzzword these days, but more than that it's the old school
idea of a more integrated curriculum, wherein S, T, E and M have much
less of a "standalone" or "stand offish" attitude.

For quite awhile, I was hoping to get a blend of CS and math topics
(like in 'Digital Age') accepted for math credits in the State of
Oregon.  I wasn't the only one with this hope.

We had that workshop / planning meeting about it 3 years ago now. [1]

The "Digital Math" or "Computational Thinking" or Discrete Math"
topics were floated.  I was pushing a 4 year track parallel to
established "analog math" so we could have some green field

That's still a useful vision for me, but I've more recently been
attracted to STEM as a way to bring more Python in particular into
more student spheres.

The idea of a machine as a "formal system" is strong enough to keep
the math purists from retaliating too concertedly.  It's not like
we're getting off topic.[2]

We shall see.  I joked we should call it the World Domination Room in
light of Python's evident success, a tongue-in-cheek allusion to a
perennial theme within free software and open access movements.

Speaking of World Domination, Michelle's experiment in an all-mostly
women Python class went well per reports, with more maxed out sessions
already scheduled.  The PSF has been financially supportive.

I joke that a lot of my students might be veiled when in public, given
the distance ed protocol.[3]  I evaluate between 100 - 200 projects
and quizzes a day, from around the Global U.

Anyway, some brain storming on the big picture and how it's going
might help us steer the direction of the Education Room in 2013.  Feel
free to share overview.


[1] Chris Brooks went on to WebMD and I lost touch with SAO, so I'm
not sure if anyone meets about this still.  I've stopped getting those

[2] http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/logsys/machines.htm

[3] http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2012/07/ppug-2012710.html
("perhaps some of them veiled in Tehran")

More information about the Edu-sig mailing list