Adventures in Programming: Python and VB

I am happily putzing along in Unity with my two programming students when I decide it is time for a break.  Let’s fiddle with Python for a few weeks.  Both have done a little Python before so no big deal.  We build a little program that computes the area of rectangles, squares and whatever other shape we want to build a function for.  Three class periods and it is done.  (My class periods are 90 minutes.)  Lots of discussion on local verses global variables, naming of variable and functions, parameter passing, designing before coding, you know, the usual things for a programming class.  Then I get clever.  (Bad, very bad.)  I think “I have not done VB in about four years, let’s do this same program in VB!”  Yup, bad, very bad.  I did it and we are going to do it.  It took me an hour or so to relearn the basics of Visual Studio while trying to remember my VB.  (Need multiple forms depending on the shape to computer the area of.  Eek.)  I do have a VB book published in 2003.  It works.  But I now remember why I teach in Python.  The VS overhead is just a pain.  When you are rusty VB is a pain, especially when you have not touched it in four years.  (I was never a wiz at it in the first place.)  I am going to finish the VB program with the kids.  They need to see what VS and VB look like.  It also emphasizes my philosophy of teach kids how to learn coding, not how to code.  The building of forms and the general structure of VB shows them a completely different scheme.

I think when we are done with this simple VB lesson I am going back to Unity.  I am thinking of having them build a house in SketchUp, import in into Unity, build a character so we can walk through the house, then export that to Android and walk through the house with Google Cardboard.  Lots of fun to be had here.

These two kids are sophomores.  I have two more years to throw more programming at them.  If I want to do a semester of VB with them I need to do a little brushing up, maybe even buy a book written in the last 10 years.


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