Change the future

Friday 5:10 p.m.–5:40 p.m.

Planning and Tending the Garden: The Future of Early Childhood Python Education

Kurt Grandis

Audience level:


Interest and activity in computing education is on the rise. Other language communities and projects have stepped up to promote early childhood programming. What tools are available for teaching Python? How do they compare?

This talk aims to discuss current trends, examine the current education landscape, question our goals as a community, and discuss opportunities for growing young developers.


My 2012 PyCon talk on using Python to shoot squirrels with a water gun was widely circulated. Soon afterwards, I started receiving many emails from people around the world. Parents and educators who had excitedly watched the video were inspired and were now asking me how they could get their children involved with Python. I was flattered and excited to be able to foster that sort of spark and yet, I felt like I didn’t have the tinder to foster that fire; I didn’t feel satisfied with my responses of how to get involved. What resources are out there to teach children how to program (Python) and perhaps without the assistance of a subject matter expert?

After conducting research, I want to share the state of tools for learning Python as well as existing tools and trends in the larger world of computing education and in other language communities. I’ll propose some goals for building a strong educational backbone for the Python community.

Outcome: Parents and educators will walk away with references for a number of tools that can be used to teach Python and programming. Attendees have a better understanding of the current educational technology landscape and trends with relation to programming. A larger discussion within the community begins about what we want to be able to offer young developers and what tools we can build or support.


  • Outcome
  • The Problem / Our Current Situation

  • What do I want to see?

    • Intro to basic principles of learning & motivation
    • Excitement
    • Engagement
    • Foster computational thinking. Problem-solving
    • Ability to express themselves. Creativity
    • Establish foundation for programming
  • Overview of Existing Tools, Approaches, and Trends

    • Scratch, Alice
    • Ruby: Hackity Hack, RubyKids
    • Javascript: Khan Academy
    • Python:
  • Why Python?

    • Characteristics
    • Field Research Results
    • Benefits
  • Python Tools & Environments

    • Books
    • Community
    • Hack Nights
    • Clubs (School or external)
    • Survey of available resources
  • What’s Missing?

    • Missed opportunities?
    • Propose new Projects
    • Demonstration of Experimental Environments
  • Conclusion & Call to Action

  • Q/A