South Fayette offering Python programming class

Published Feb 17, 2014 at 11:47 am (Updated Feb 17, 2014 at 11:47 am)

The word python can evoke several emotions from most people, but for some, Python is simply a computer programming language. In keeping with the serpent theme, students at South Fayette High School are using Python to teach fellow students how to make a computer game called Snake.

The weekly after-school class is being taught by South Fayette High School Seniors Ben Kenawell and Radhir Kothuri. As freshmen, Kenawell and Kothuri were involved in the district’s first after-school Mobile App Lab, in which professors from Carnegie Mellon University taught students how to make apps for cell phones.

In addition to teaching the course to South Fayette students, Kenawell and Kothuri are also teaching a weekly class to students from Fort Cherry and Mars Area high schools. The outreach is a part of the district’s Grable Foundation grant.

The first class on Feb. 12 had 14 students from Mars Area High School and four from Fort Cherry High School. During that first class, Kenawell and Kothuri gave a short presentation on how to set up Python.

“We’re teaching them the basics,” Kenawell said. Once the students get the basics of Python down, Kenawell said they can “each make their own unique adjustments to the game.”

“They’re really enthusiastic,” Kothuri said. “We hope by the end they can come up with their own Snake game.”

Trisha Craig is the curriculum director at Fort Cherry and her son Ryan is a fourth-grader at South Fayette. She said she signed him up for an after-school Scratch class in which programming is also taught. After that, she said things started rolling and she got in contact with South Fayette’s technology director Aileen Owens about doing some outreach.

“We’re hoping to give kids an introduction to this,” she said.

Craig said computer programming is offered at Fort Cherry as a class for older students and as an after-school club for younger ones.

Fort Cherry freshman Chris Downs said he signed up for the program to “make new games.” He added that he wants to eventually design his own game.

Michael Guerra, a senior at Fort Cherry, said he thought the class was a “good idea.”

“It’s a nice skill to have just in case,” said Brittany Makrush, a junior at Fort Cherry.

Zach Tuxedo, a senior at Mars Area High School who wants to study computer programming in college, said he signed up for the class to “Broaden my coding knowledge.”

“I’ve taken pretty much every programming class at school,” said Zack Regan, a junior at Mars who wants to study computer science in college. He said he figured one more couldn’t hurt.

“I’ve been wanting to learn Python for a while,” said David Gardner, a senior at Mars.

Gage Zimmerman, a senior at Mars, added he also wanted to “further my knowledge.” He said he wants to have a career as a software engineer. “It’s really growing,” he said.

“We have taken students from being students in the mobile app lab to being teachers,” said South Fayette Director of Technology Aileen Owens. “Our goal is to create innovative leaders.”

PyStudio is being held at South Fayette weekly through March 12.

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