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O'Reilly Open Source Convention


Python in Education
Kirby Urner, 4D Solutions

Track: Python
Date: Wednesday, July 09
Time: 5:15pm - 6:00pm
Location: Salon A

Python is already impacting education in various ways, and much of its potential is still untapped. In addition, many questions need further discussion. What is the relationship between numeracy and computer literacy? Does technology in the mathematics curriculum mean anything beyond calculators?

Math Through Programming
How might a math teacher use Python? Given the visual appeal and conceptual richness of spatial geometry, one approach is to glue Python to a ray tracing package such as Povray, to generate exciting graphics while giving insights into key ideas, such as coordinate systems and transformations. Another approach is to teach basic mathematical objects, such as fractions and polynomials, using classes and operator overriding. Both of these approaches may be easily combined.

Education and the Web
Python may also serve a more behind the scenes role, as a part of the server infrastructure on education-oriented web sites. Zope and content management frameworks such as Plone, have the ability to bring educators together in collaborative networks, as well as to provide e-commerce options to the growing home schooling sector.

Urner provides some concrete examples of all of the above, and encourages participants to brainstorm about other ways in which Python might be harnessed, now and in the future, to serve educators.

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