PythonTurtle delivers!

A few days ago, a coworker asked me what tool he should use to teach another non-programming coworker some programming.PythonTurtle

I thought a little, and suggested PythonTurtle, and then also demonstrated the builtin turtle.

I thought nothing much of it, but a few days later, when I entered his office, the non-programming coworker was sitting there, trying to draw a star of david! She said he left her to do this, and that it was really cool, and then she asked me “how can I repeat commands instead of typing them again?”.

I showed her “for i in range(10)”, and then a function definition. She was really excited about those. I then helped her a little with the star of david, showed her some fractals, and gave her some new homework.
My conclusions from her reactions:

  1. PythonTurtle is especially suited for non-programmers. Because of the non-intimidating UI, she did not realize she was programming until we specifically told her she was. She thought this was some introductory stuff before she starts “real programming”. I believe this is very important, as while the classic turtle has the same capabilities, it would have been very different working from a “scary” interactive prompt. (The friendly turtle image is a definite plus in that regard! :)
  2. When teaching with PythonTurtle and using “for i in range(10)” and “def triangle():”, loops and functions were very intuitive. She was actually asking for such tools, and when I told her about them, she understood them almost immediately!
  3. Any programming teaching aid that makes the student actually excited about loops and functions should be respected :)
  4. Since the goal was to draw specific shapes, it was easy getting the “success high” associated with programming, and it kept her really excited. It was amazing to see her reaction when she finished writing the triangle function, not sure if she wrote it right, and then calling it, and seeing it draw a triangle correctly.
  5. Even with all the praise I write here, it should still be taken with a grain of salt. It’s possible that a lot of her enthusiasm was because of her personality, and less because of PythonTurtle itself.

Final verdict: next time I need to teach someone to program, I’m going to reach for PythonTurtle.

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One Response to PythonTurtle delivers!

  1. Rafi B. says:

    Cool ! Downloading and will check out… :)