Python for Kids

Warren Postma embed at
Tue May 2 15:27:45 CEST 2000

> OK, I'm going to piggyback on Rick's question.
> My son's school district has asked me to teach an introductory
> programming class to some of the talented and gifted students this
> summer. They want me to teach for eight days. 1.25 hours a day for 1-2
> graders, 1.25 hours a day for 3-6 graders.
> I want to use Python, but have no experience with Python on the Mac,
> which is what the school district uses.
> First question: what do I need to be careful of, if anything when using
> Python on Mac?

I think the bigger issues than using a Mac are how to teach programming to
young kids.
Has anyone got books on this? I remember Logo, but I don't know how much
work has
been done since then on these things.

I remember one of the first programs I found compelling as a kid was "Hunt
the Wumpus".
At 8 years old, I used to get this book out of the library just because I
liked to dream
that someday I might own a computer upon which I would hunt for wumpii.
(Maybe thats why I have a basement full of Commodore 64s now.)

Is anyone else interested in designing a Python-based Game for Kids, to
teach programming?
What would be great is if it could be extended by small kid-written objects
that are small
enough to write in class, but which leaves some room for open-endedness, and
between kids. First they'll type in some basic types of programs, and
experiment with changing
them around a bit. Then, perhaps intuition will take flight, and they'll
come up with new
ideas. Once they "grok" python, watch out! ;-)

One possible idea is a combination of the "Battling Robots" simulation game,
and the
ancient Electronic Arts classic "Mail Order Monsters". Perhaps the kids
could build
little software-based robots/monsters/etc that either battle, or search, or
explore, or
do some other useful competitive and/or cooperative things with each other.
A simple 2d
bitmap layer would suffice for showing the robots on their playing field,
and May The Best
Algorithm Win.

Other stops along this road could include classic simulations like the LIFE
and simple artificial-intelligence toys like the "What kind of animal are
you?" game, or Eliza.
What really captivated me as a kid was how much it seemed that computers,
mere circuits,
where alive, once you programmed them with an interesting program. That
hasn't changed much.


Warren Postma

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