Coding Class at VTHS: Welcoming the Future with Open Arms

This article was produced with the contributions of MN and AN

Over the past year, many new classes and opportunities for students to expand their educations have arrived on the Valley Torah campus, including  a Computer Programming class taught by Mr. Chris Bradfield. The decision was to make it a part of the available electives for the ninth and tenth graders so underclassmen can begin to acclimate to a more technologically involved future.

The new class involves the students learning Python, an easy, user-friendly programming language with endless possibilities. Students use the website CodeHS as a guide for their Python needs, as it has many tutorials for interacting with the Python terminal. The Python terminal is a free space where users can test out their code in a limitless environment known as a sandbox. CodeHS has their own online version of Python, so students can write any Python application, anywhere, at any time.

Although the base language of Python can seem basic, students can add extra functionalities – such as adding a random number generator with submodules – that can be downloaded using a tool known as Pip.

Coders can create all sorts of programs, whether it’s a calculator, or a brand new video game. If interested in video games, coders can recreate games ranging from the classic “Snake” game on Google to the “Flappy Bird” game. If interested in the drawing genre, another tool, named Turtle, allows coders to express their artistic talents on computers. These are a few of the many submodules that you can extend Python with.

Students in the coding class had a challenge to see which of the 12 students in the class would be able to make the most changes to the classic “Snake” game playable on Google. Many interesting ideas were executed, such as changing the color and sizes of the grids, the ability of walking through walls, or a challenge mode where you can make the apple location regenerate at each frame. The winner, however, was determined by the score system, where it saved records on a text document so players can always play again at any time to try and beat  previous high score. Since coders are the ones in control, they can change the game to their liking.

While most operating systems comes with Python preinstalled, you’ll need to manually install it on Windows. The main part of python is the terminal, but coders should not write anything important in there as code created is irretrievable once the terminal process has closed. Fortunately, using your favorite text editor that isn’t Microsoft Word, coders can save their applications to a “.py” file which will preserve it for future usage.

Mr Bradfield is very passionate about his preference for Python as he considers it the easiest language for newcomers to learn, and therefore teaches it instead of a different language: “No matter what you study or what your future career is, technology is going to surround you, so learning to code helps you understand how it works and how to best use it,” said Mr. Bradfield.

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