Sunday, February 8, 2015

PyTennessee 2015: Teacher meets Python

        Today's blog post is going to be short and sweet because it's Sunday afternoon and I still have two fantastic hours of Python learning left in PyTennessee.  Python is a programming language which is making inroads into science, big data, animation, language processing, and education.  It has strong community support and it's open source. Whenever you see open source relating to software it means FREE. Open Source is a labor of love by the people who built it.  In the spirit of this fabulous community I will share with you many of the resources which I have learned about during my involvement with this community.

Young Coders Conference
        The Young Coders Conferences were my introduction to the Python community.  There were five young coders conferences last year in Middle Tennessee.  The generosity of the Python Foundation and others made is possible for students to attend these conferences for free. All students received a free computer loaded with Python, Scratch and others to take home. Most of the conferences last year occurred in schools that had a Python champion teacher.  This teacher was willing to jump through all of the administrative hoops to make it happen. I was allowed to 'ghost' the conference last February and learn along with other students.  After the conference I became a champion for the students at my school.  I held a Young Coders Conference at my own school during the school day. I also lead the Young Coders Conference for the Sunday session in PyOhio.
         I wish I new the other teacher champions.  I do know the school that also held a YC conference. Those schools are: Manchester Central High School in Coffee County, Seigal High School in Murfreesboro and Winchester High School in Franklin county.  Props to all of these teachers who made this happen for their students.  If you would like for your child to attend young coders follow PyTennessee so you can grab tickets to one of these free slots.  Seats are limited and disappear fast. If you want to host a Young coders conference at your school contact us and we'll connect you to the right people.

I don't live in Nashville. Whom should I contact?
       There are many ways to connect to the Python community.  First try Meetup.  In our area there are over 50 different Meetup groups related to technology. These groups cover everything from Arduino to Linux to Python and everything in between. If you are really lucky you will find a Pyladies chapter in your area.  These women are very supportive of newbies trying to learn the python programming language. We do not have an active PyLadies chapter in Nashville.  We do however have an active women's group called Nashville Women Programmers which is headed up by Lisa French.

I've checked Meetup and Googled Pyladies but nothing is going on in our area.
        Before this conference I would have said you were out of luck but I would have been wrong.  There are many excellent resources to help you learn Python at home and they are OPEN SOURCE.
There are videos from previous conferences you can check out through  When you go there search for 'Hands on python for beginning programmers'.  You can split this course into bite size sections to work on at home.  There are several other talks available for free. This site has an easy to use search bar.
       Another fantastic resource to check out are the ipython notebooks. You can find these at  The python community has amassed multiple notebooks to teach you about python, scientific python, python for apps, python and website and many other topics.  This free education is available to you through these open source notebooks. An ipython notebook is available for the hands on class I referenced in the prior paragraph.
        If you prefer to learn through twitter follow @geekgurldiaries.  She has many resources and videos related to Python and the Raspberrypi which you can link to via her twitter account.  If you don't know what a RaspberryPi is you can check out this link @Geekgurldiaries even has a link to the school age curriculum for using Rapberry Pis to teach Python while exploring sound. If you aren't on Twitter you can find this curriculum by Googling SonicPy.  Again this curriculum is open source which means it's completely free and very valuable which makes it a gift.  Thank you Cambridge and the engineers who built this curriculum.

I would just rather have a quiet space with a book and a Python shell to figure this out
        Okay, I can point you towards a good resource.  This isn't free but I understand the comfort of holding a book in your hand as you follow the curriculum at your own pace.  O'Reilly publishes books on Python and other languages.  I have several of their works on my shelf at home.  If you are a modern reader with a nook or whatever O'Reilly also has their books available in print.  When you are programming for the first time I would suggest starting with a children's text to learn coding.  O'Reilly has two or three of those book titles available.

I want to say a quick thank you to the sponsors of PyTennessee and the organizers.  If you had not organized this I wouldn't have met Carol Williams who introduced me to many of the resources listed in the above article.  I also want to thank Brian and Lyndsy from the Center for Open Science.  You all inspire me to reach for things I might not try otherwise. will link you to the Center for Open Science if you want to check out the great work they are doing or just say, "Hi."

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