Stuart Walesh, an author and consultant, once said: “The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a challenge and opportunity beyond imagination.”
Many of us use computers. Sometimes, the time we spend on them consume the majority of our day. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing can be debated in another blog post, but the fact is…technology is an overwhelming part of our diet.
Taking my first computer science class as an undergraduate made it apparent to me that learning about how code and algorithms work was a really important thing, especially if I wanted to solve problems on my own. I declared my major in computer science and focused on learning more about how code could be used to analyze large amounts of text more efficiently. I have not regretted it since, and am beyond happy to see a good number of students show up to the Python Open Labs to learn more about how to write code to perhaps automate their own tasks.
The people who show up to our class are diverse in terms of major – coming from backgrounds ranging from education to international affairs to pure math/analytics. It’s been really nice to see people actively show up to our labs with a desire to learn how to code and truly curious about how to solve problems. It’s proven to me again and again that anyone can learn how to code, and it’s been wildly encouraging to see people who think they cannot do it actually do it!
This is my first semester helping to lead the Python Open Labs. I find that lessons introducing a new programming language or new programming concepts are best taught in a step-by-step manner. Jupyter Notebooks have allowed me to accomplish this very well, allowing for space to write comments in markdown and running code in cell blocks. The students in class love this medium as well, and at the end of the lesson, they can easily look back over the notebook and remember what we learned about.
I’ve really enjoyed helping out with the labs so far and answering so many questions from the students who show up. Anyone is welcome to stop by the Python Open Labs – even if you have never written a line of code before in your life. I look forward to learning more from my students as the semester goes on.