Distributing the Files

July 21, 2009

If you have contacted me about the files, they will be ready for delivery this week.  I am working out the last few kinks in the programming.  When you receive the email, there will be several files attached. One will be a PDF document with instructions, but I am reproducing it below in case you can’t open that file.  The other files will the program code.  The file your child worked on is titled MoonTAG_Complete.py.

To run the program, complete the following steps:

  1. Visit http://www.vpython.org/contents/download_windows.html and download the following files: Python-2.6.2.msi and VPython-Win-Py2.6-5.11.exe to your hard drive.
  2. Double click on the file python-2.6.2.msi to install the Python interpreter. This file must be installed first.
  3. Double click on the file VPython-Win-Py2.6-5.11.exe to install the Visual libraries (required to run the animation).
  4. Create a folder on your desktop called MoonTAG. Copy the python files into that folder.  There are six files: MoonTAG_Complete.py, Planet.py, SpaceShip.py, System.py, TimePiece.py, WindowEnvironment.py.
  5. Find the desktop icon VIDLE for Python 2.6 and double click to open it.
  6. In VIDLE, click on the “File . . . Open,” then navigate to the MoonTAG folder.  Open the file MoonTAG_Complete.py.  You will see the computer code for the program in the window.
  7. On the top menu bar, select “Run . . . Run Module,” or you can hit the F5 key.  This will execute the program.  (The first time you run the program, it will take a few minutes to run.)

Your child’s web page can be viewed at this address:


Replace ## with your child’s two-digit number.  (Written down during class.)  To log in and edit the page, use the following log in information:

  • Username: MoonTAG0##
  • Password: moontag0##

Both are case-sensitive.  Replace ## with your child’s two-digit number.

Please contact me with any questions.  I can provide any amount of help with the Python program.  For help with the web page, you should contact Webs.com technical support.

My email address is dunningrb [at] longwood [dot] edu.

July 17: Wrapping Up the Course

July 17, 2009

Yesterday was the 40th anniversay of the Apollo 11 liftoff. Monday (July 20) will be the 40th anniversary of Armstrong’s first step onto the lunar surface.

In the last class meetings students worked on a web page where they described what they learned in the TAG class. They also did a little Internet research to discover important facts about Apollo 11 and the Moon. Additionally, the learned how to add pictures, videos (YouTube), and simple games to their websites.

I had originally planned to distribute the final version of the computer program on CD, but burning 80 copies of the master CD would take about 16 hours. Right now I plan to distribute the student’s code through email to the parents. A separate post will describe how to install and run the program.

July 8: Creating the Earth and Rocket

July 8, 2009

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!