Python coding for kids: Moving beyond the basics
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Python coding for kids: Moving beyond the basics
We are excited to announce our second new Python learning path, ‘More Python’, which shows young coders how to add real data to their programs while creating projects from a chart of Olympic medals to an interactive world map. The six guided Python projects in this free learning path are designed to enable young people to independently create their own Python projects about the topics that matter to them.
In this post, we’ll show you how kids use the projects in the ‘More Python’ path, what they can make by following the path, and how the path structure helps them become confident and independent digital makers.
Python coding for kids: Our learning paths
Our ‘Introduction to Python’ learning path is the perfect place to start learning how to use Python, a text-based programming language. When we launched the Intro path in February, we explained why Python is such a popular, useful, and accessible programming language for young people.
Because Python has so much to offer, we have created a second Python path for young people who have learned the basics in the first path. In this new set of six projects, learners will discover new concepts and see how to add different types of real data to their programs.
Key questions answered
Who is this path for?
We have written the projects in this path with young people around the age of 10 to 13 in mind. To code in a text-based language, a young person needs to be familiar with using a keyboard, due to the typing involved. Learners should have already completed the ‘Introduction to Python’ project path, as they will build on the learning from that path.
How do young people learn with the projects?
Young people need access to a web browser to complete our project paths. Each project contains step-by-step instructions for learners to follow, and tick boxes to mark when they complete each step. On top of that, the projects have steps for learners to:
- Reflect on what they have covered in the project
- Share their projects with others
- See suggestions to upgrade their projects
Young people also have the option to sign up for an account with us so they can save their progress at any time and collect badges.
While learners follow the project instructions in this project path, they write their code into Trinket, a free web-based coding platform accessible in a browser. Each project contains a link to a starter Trinket, which includes everything to get started writing Python code — no need to install any additional software.
If they prefer, however, young people also have the option of instead writing their code in a desktop-based programming environment, such as Thonny, as they work through the projects.
What will young people learn?
To use data in their Python programs, the project instructions show learners how to:
- Create and use lists
- Create and use dictionaries
- Read data from a data file
The projects support learners as they explore new concepts of digital visual media and:
- Create charts using the Python library Pygal
- Plot pins on a map
- Create randomised artwork
In each project, learners reflect and answer questions about their work, which is important for connecting the project’s content to their pre-existing knowledge.
As they work through the projects, learners see different ways to present data and then decide how they want to present their data in the final project in the path. You’ll find out what the projects are on the path page, or at the bottom of this blog post.
The project path helps learners become independent coders and digital makers, as each project contains slightly less support than the one before. You can read about how our project paths are designed to increase young people’s independence, and explore our other free learning paths for young coders
How long will the path take to complete?
We’ve designed the path to be completed in around six one-hour sessions, with one hour per project, at home, in school, or at a coding club. The project instructions encourage learners to add code to upgrade their projects and go further if they wish. This means that young people might want to spend a little more time getting their projects exactly as they imagine them.
What can young people do next?
Use Unity to create a 3D world
Unity is a free development environment for creating 3D virtual environments, including games, visual novels, and animations, all with the text-based programming language C#. Our ‘Introduction to Unity’ project path for keen coders shows how to make 3D worlds and games with collectibles, timers, and non-player characters.
Take part in Coolest Projects Global
At the end of the ‘More Python’ path, learners are encouraged to register a project they’ve made using their new coding skills for Coolest Projects Global, our free and world-leading online technology showcase for young tech creators. The project they register will become part of the online gallery, where members of the Coolest Projects community can celebrate each other’s creations.
We welcome projects from all young people, whether they are beginners or experienced coders and digital makers. Coolest Projects Global is a unique opportunity for young people to share their ingenuity with the world and with other young people who love coding and creating with digital technology.
Details about the projects in ‘More Python’
In this Explore project, learners discover the power of lists in Python by creating an interactive chart of Olympic medals. They learn how to read data from a text file and then present that data as a bar chart.
In this Explore project, learners create a simulation of the solar system. They revisit the drawing and animation skills that they learned in the ‘Introduction to Python’ project path to produce animated planets orbiting the sun. The animation is based on real data taken from a data file to simulate the speed that the planets move at as they orbit. The simulation is also interactive, using dictionaries to display data about the planets that have been selected.
The final Explore project gets learners to build on their knowledge of lists and dictionaries by creating a program that encodes and decodes a message using an Atbash cipher. The Atbash cipher was originally developed in the Hebrew language. It takes the alphabet and matches it to its reverse order to create a secret message. They also create a script that checks how many times certain letters have been used in an encoded message, so that they can discover patterns.
The first Design project allows learners to create fun pieces of artwork by encoding the letters of their name into images, patterns, or drawings. Learners can choose the images that will be produced for each letter, and whether these appear at random or in a geometric pattern.
Learners are encouraged to share their encoded artwork in the community library, where there are lots of fun projects to discover already. In this project, learners apply all of the coding skills and knowledge covered in the Explore projects, including working with dictionaries and lists.
In the next Design project, learners access data from a data file and use it to create location pins on a world map. They have six datasets to choose from, so they can use one that interests them. They can also choose from a variety of maps and design their own pin to truly personalise their projects.
This project is designed to use all of the skills and knowledge covered in this path, and most of the skills from the ‘Introduction to Python’ path. Learners can choose from eight datasets to create data visualisations. They are also given instructions on how to access and prepare other datasets if they want to visualise data about a different topic.
Once learners have chosen their dataset, they can decide how they want it to be displayed. This could be a chart, a map with pins, or a unique data visualisation. There are lots of example projects to provide inspiration for learners. One of our favourites is the ISS Expedition project, which places flags on the ISS depending on the expedition number you enter.
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