Last month, I commented on Dan Meyer's blog dy/dan that I wasn't sure about using programming as part of teaching mathematics. Dan had worked on a project of developing Python programs to be part of the mathematics curriculum. This was part of a Google project on computational thinking. I've played around with Python, and I like what I see so far.
I started writing a Python program as part of my toaster data collection. I wasn't happy with using a die to choose the toaster settings because one setting came up more than the others. Instead, I wanted to test all of the settings in a random order.
I have programmed enough to be able to implement this program in several different languages. However, I didn't want to take the time to write it in C or Java. I started to write a program on my TI-83, but that was too slow. I remembered that my friend Shawn was working on learning Python, so I thought I would give it a try. It took me half and hour to download Python, install it, and learn enough to get the result I wanted. I would like to claim that a short development time was due to my genius. However, it had to do with the random.shuffle() function which was built into the random module.
Now that I see how fast one can develop a program in Python, I am intrigued by the possibilities. I am discovering that there are many third-party extensions that could be helpful in the classroom. I am looking forward to exploring their use over Christmas.