July 8: Creating the Earth and Rocket

In today’s class the students received their first exposure to the Python programming language.  We started by creating a simple program that displayed statements to the screen, such as “My name is Johnny.  I have two cats.”  This made sure the computers were working correctly and that students could save their files in a home directory which they access for later classes.

Next, we ran our first visual program that created a model of the Earth with the Rocket sitting on the equator.  (Pictures coming in future posts.)  The students also learned how to manipulate the display using the mouse to zoom in and out, and rotate the point of view.

In most of the classes we also started work on the code that will make the Earth rotate on its axis.  Everyone will be caught up with this by tomorrow, and also in tomorrow’s classes we’ll add the Moon and watch it orbit the Earth.

I’ll provide more details about the Python programming language and the VPython visual libraries (used to create the 3-D animations) in future posts.  We’re on our way to the Moon!


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