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Re: [school-discuss] first programming language

I think Gary Dunn has raised some good points,
although my experiences with both Python and
Squeak lead me to different conclusions than
his. Since this thirteen-year-old is learning
math and physics, the VPython module in Python
is an obvious choice: not only was it designed
specifically as an environment for math and
physics (and geometry and astronomy), it also
has a simplified syntax for its graphical
commands &c, making things a good deal smoother
for people who are new to programming.

I think that the overall Squeak environment
makes it much easier than Python (including
VPython) to just plunge in and start to
manipulate graphics. However, once one gets
to the point of actually working on the
details of code, I think that VPython is an
easier place in which to learn just how the
language works--at least in the earlier
stages of the coding process. But that may
just be my personal reaction.

If it is feasible, it might be a good idea
to set up both VPython and Squeak, and move
back and forth between them in a kind of
"compare & contrast" plan. If the student
were required to take a program in one of
the languages and attempt to translate it
into the other, I imagine that the student
could learn a lot from the experience.


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