Programming What I’m Up To

Can I say how impressed I am with this Python class?

A still from the recording of last night’s class. Tap to view at full size.

Yesterday was Evening 3 of the 10-evening “Learn Python” class that I’m teaching on behalf of Computer Coach, a tech training center here in Tampa. It started last Wednesday and takes place online every Monday and Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.. There are 15 students in the class.

So far, the class is going well. In fact, I’m rather impressed. Even though some of them have only a little programming experience and others have none, they’re learning at a great pace, and better still, they’re cleverly applying what they’re learning, and they’re not afraid to ask questions and experiment.

For example, there’s the Fizzbuzz exercise. It’s where the challenge is to a program that counts from 1 to 100 and prints out the current number as it does this, while following these rules:

  • If the current number is divisible by 3, don’t print the number. Print “fizz” instead.
  • If the current number is divisible by 5, don’t print the number. Print “buzz” instead.
  • If the current number is divisible by both 3 and 5, don’t print the number. Print “fizzbuzz” instead.

Not only did they figure out how to make it work — not bad for evening 2! — but some of them started add their own ideas to the application. One said “I’m tweaking the program so that you can enter what numbers get turned into ‘fizz’ and ‘buzz’ instead of just 3 and 5.” And those modifications worked.

While covering if for comparing numbers, another student asked “Is there some way where I can compare a number to see if it’s part of a group of different numbers?” This led me to introduce lists and the in operator a little early, but it was a sign that one of them was already trying to come up with ways to apply a concept they’d just learned minutes before.

Last night, while I was demonstrating some list methods, yet another student asked “How do I pop an item from one list and then add it to another?” Again, that’s something someone does only when they grasp a new concept and start thinking up applications for it.

I just have to say this: I’m very impressed with this Python class.