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Zero or Hero? - Assessing Pygame Zero in the classroom

Friday 11:00 AM–11:30 AM in Hall B

Part of the Education specialist track

Kids want to code games and I need them to learn the fundamental data structures and how to make a user interface. Pygame Zero seems like a gift - the UI power of pygame with a simpler format and an implied main loop. In truth there have been ups and downs in the journey implementing Pygame Zero into the Middle and Senior school classroom and I want to show you some of the promise and the pitfalls.

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I've just discovered that Pygame Zero is a thing. I have spent years fighting with Pygame and Kivy and to a lesser extent AppJar; Graphical User Interfaces are really hard. So when I found there was a clean, easy way to make games with Python using Pygame Zero I was ecstatic. I found it really easy to read and immediately implemented it into my classes. It didn't go exactly to plan. It turns out that there are two ways to learn stuff - one is to trust the teacher and learn by rote where the code should fit and the other is to break it down and synthesise it and understand where things should go. Turns out the latter is harder than I anticipated. I think that teachers and education fans will be interested to hear my story. They can see what my dream was and how it compares with the reality. I have hope that Pygame Zero is going to serve a purpose as a stepping stone between text based Python and stuff that involves User Interface and I have ideas about how to do things better but maybe I can help others to avoid some of the problems I faced on the way.

Amanda J Hogan she/her • @hogesonline@aus.social • @hogesonline

Amanda is a teacher at a co-educational secondary school in Sydney. She's been trying to find really effective and engaging ways to teach students how to solve problems with code for some time now with mixed success. She is a contributor, content creator and tutor for the Sydney branch of the Girls Programming Network. She is the current treasurer of the ICT Educators professional association in NSW and in that role tries hard to mentor new teachers or teachers new to computing. She always has some project on the go from e-textiles to making web tools to make her life easier. In a former life she was a database and web developer. In her opinion Python is the best mix of power and ease of use for beginner programmers. In her spare time she throws herself at bouldering walls or rides her bike.