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1.1. Why learn Coding?

Here are some reasons that we think you should learn to code. (Click on the buttons to see more.)

Q-1: List some of your reasons for wanting to learn to code.

1.2. What is Coding?

Listen to Mike’s rap about coding to learn his answers to:

Think for a minute about what each of the following means in a dicussion of computing. Then click on the buttons to compare our definitions with yours:

Check your understanding.

To understand the distinctions between these terms, it can help to draw analogies with activities that you are already familiar with.

image of teens following a recipe (

Cooking from a Recipe

clipart of dog pondering an equation involving bones (CoolCLIPS_vc016297)

Pet Tricks

1.3. Python Turtle Graphics

Animated gif of a Turtle following instructions to draw a 5-pointed star.

Animation of a Turtle following a series of instructions

You’ll be learning coding using Python Turtle Graphics, a library of code that is written in the Python Programming Language.

To whet your appetite, here’s an example program in a Runestone active code widget.

Don’t worry about understanding this code just yet. But notice what it looks like — the code has odd-looking words, punctuation, numbers, and math-like symbols. They all mean something to the computer. So does the indentation. We’ll learn the rules for writing code like this in the weeks ahead.

The white area in the active code widget is an editor. You can scroll through the code if you place your cursor into editor. You can change the size of the editor by dragging the bottom-left corner up and down. You can also modify the code. But don’t do that just yet!

For now, just scroll the contents in the window and resize the editor so the Run button is at the top of the window and you can see a good four inches or more below the editor. (To scroll the window contents, place your cursor outside the editor.)

Then click the Run button to see what running the code produces. After pressing Run, you need to scroll down below the code editor to see what the program draws.

To get practice running code and see what you can learn by doing so, perform the following experiments.

Experiment #1

Experiment #2

Q-6: Based on these experiments, what do you think the computer uses the number in line 39 for?

Experiment #3

Experiment #4

Q-7: Based on these experiments, what do you think the computer uses the pair of numbers in line 37 for? (Suggestion: Use the slider above the editor and re-run the earlier versions of the code to remind yourself what each version does.)

Other Experiment suggestions:

Q-8: What did you learn from your additional experiments?

Isn’t it amazing how much you can learn about code just by playing around with it?

By the end of club, you will be able to design and code diagrams like this yourself! clipart of a smiley face with hearts for eyes

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