See also Coding as an Extra-curricular Activity under Extra-curricular. This includes details of the Coding Club, Call to Code and Technovation – a project to develop apps to help solve some social problem.
Coding or Computer Programming can be learned informally by all students with the support of some teachers. In 2018 the Coding Short Course was introduced to some of the first year classes. Coding is also being learned by some Transition year students who have finished their ECDL modules.
Coding From Home
To learn coding in python from home effectively the following advice should help.
Learn from a website
A good one suitable for 1st years and 4th years or even adult learners is the BBC Bitesize Programming module that is part of their KS3 Computer Science course. It is really well designed, concise, containing a few snippets of code that you can try out in IDLE (see below). I recommend that learners work through the pages from Introduction to Programming down to Writing Error Free Code and 6 Class clips. To aid learning and make it interactive I suggest you take short written notes in a copy. Each time you see a code snippet try it out in IDLE and run it to see it working. Visit BBC Bitesize Programming .
For this you need a personal computer (PC) either one running Windows or a Mac running OS X or higher. If you do not have access to such a device then you may use the Online Python Interpreter (see link below under Useful Links).
On a PC/Mac go to python.org , click Downloads and choose a version that suits your device. Then download it. When the Install Python window appears, check the box that says Add Python 3.8 to PATH. (This makes python work in the Command Prompt and allows easily installation later of pgzero to program games using python). This takes about 10 minutes.
With python comes an easy app to use to write and run code. IDLE stands for Integrated Development Learning Environment. To open it click on Start (in Windows) then A then P then Python then IDLE.
To save your code and any short programs you write click on File > New File when you have the Python Shell open. Then in the File window (not the Python Shell), called “untitled” to begin with, choose File > Save As to save locally in a Coding folder in your Documents folder and later in OneDrive (See Students > IT for how to do this, and for other help saving and accessing Python files).
What to practice
To begin with I suggest you write and run the code snippets from the BBC Bitesize website as separate files. Then experiment with changing the code in these snippets to see what happens.
Then try some of the Assignments in the Coding Shared folder which Mr. Loughran will share with you on request by email. Then ask for some solutions to check if your code is OK.
Try a project. You can find many on the internet. The trick is to find some that are suitable for your stage of learning coding. If you find ones that suit you please email links to them to me (Mr. J. Loughran) and I will post them here later. I will add two projects to the Coding Shared folder soon. One (Coin Collector) is great fun but requires you to install pgzero which is explained below.
Doing the Assignments with help
To access the Assignments folder please email Mr. J. Loughran and ask him to share Coding Shared with you.
Each assignment starts with a summary of what to do, and line by line what to do. If you do not know how to do something look it up in the AllPythonBasics.py file which shows you how to do everything. You can also ask Google. There are lots of python coders on the internet willing to help and your question has probably been asked before and answered in a forum. Run your code and if it does as expected then well done. Save the assignment with a new name e.g. prepending your initials or full name to it (Google “prepending”), then upload it to your Coding folder on OneDrive so you can access it from home and school or anywhere.
When you have done a few assignments e.g. five, or are badly stuck and your friends cannot help you, email me for access to a folder of solutions.
Installing Pygame Zero to code python games (on a PC)
Open the command prompt: Either type cmd in the Search box on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen or go to Start (Window icon on taskbar) > A > W > Windows System > Command Prompt.
Install pip, a package manager: In the Command Prompt after C:> or after the prompt (>) type:
python -m pip install -u pip
and press Enter. You may have to omit the -u or type what is suggested instead until it works and you see it installing. If it is already installed it will tell you.
Install pygame: At the prompt type: pip install pygame Then press Enter.
Install pgzero: Type: pip install pgzero and press Enter.
Installing Pygame Zero to code python games (on a Mac)
Open Terminal: Find it in the Applications folder or search for it using Spotlight.
Install a package manager called Homebrew: In the Terminal window type
ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)”
Press enter after each line you type. You need to type it exactly and it takes a while, where nothing seems to happen. If it does not work then Google it. (I have not tried this on a Mac so I am not sure if it is up to date. Please email me (Mr. Loughran) with updated instructions that worked for you if you succeed.)
Check Python3 is installed: Type: brew install python3
Install other tools: brew install sdl sdl_mixer sdl_sound sdl_ttf
Install pygame: pip3 install pygame
Install pygame zero: pip3 install pgzero
Running Python game code
If you code a python game like Coin Collector, before you run it you must install Pygame zero as above.
Then to run it in IDLE you must add a line above your code and one below your code so that it runs as follows:
When you get over these hurdles you will have great fun writing games and changing them to work the way you like best. When I have time I will add some to the Coding Shared folder.
Learning to code a website, web app and game
Coding Short Course
The Coding Short Course will form part of the work for some students completing Junior Cycle in 2021 and 2022, who started in August 2018 and 2019 respectively. It consists of two periods per week in first year and one period per week in second and in third year. Students learn the basic concepts of Computer Science. They learn basic data constructs and code them using Python.
This website allows you to write code in Python and to run and test your program to see the output, without the need to install Python on a PC or Mac. You can use it on any device that can access the internet e.g. a tablet or phone, although screen size may be an issue. Having written and tested a program you can copy and paste it to a text editor or IDLE screen and save it as a file to keep. Similarly you could paste code from your own file to this screen to test and run it.
This is the home of Python. From here you can download and install Python on your PC or Mac computer. This site also provides extensive tutorials and documentation.