Python: Fastest-Growing Text Programming Language

Python’s English-like readability, the BBC micro:bit, cyber:bot robot kit, and browser-based programming environment are a winning combination

Python is the world’s fastest growing text-based language, especially in education. The list of reasons for this success include:

  • Beginner-friendly (reads like English – looks like BASIC)
  • Object-oriented, structured language is powerful and extendable
  • Runs on embedded hardware (the BBC micro:bit and Parallax cyber:bot)
  • Programming tools (open source, run in a browser on all operating systems, etc.)
  • Forces new programmers to use alignment/indentation for legibility (good practice)
  • Not overly verbose – easier to “get at the heart” of the concept you’re teaching (no wading through a bunch of meaningless syntax rules that obscure the instructional intent)
  • Free / open source (no awkward licensing/copyright)

Python + Robotics

Python’s popularity in education is a result of the successful efforts of Damien George, who created “MicroPython” — a version that runs on physical computing systems like the BBC micro:bit. This possibility has enabled Parallax to extend the capabilities of Python scripts to robotic and cybersecurity applications used in our cyber:bot tutorials. 

The cyber:bot is the popular Parallax robotic platform developed with cyber.org. Students build the robot, construct the circuits, write the Python scripts, and run the combination as a complete system. With the 2020 Microbit Educational Foundation announcement of expanded memory in the BBC micro:bit v2.0, Python is now a serious tool for middle school through college.

Electronic sensor systems of all types may be controlled with fairly simple Python scripts. These programs may be several pages in length and incorporate enough sensors and logic for table-top competition robotics! 

Python + Cybersecurity

Parallax has released several hundred pages of cybersecurity resources using the BBC micro:bit module on the cyber:bot.

Using these tutorials, students will understand encryption, key shifts and wireless communication by writing Python scripts. Some lessons use just one micro:bit, some use two, and some make use of the micro:bit on a cyber:bot.

The first tutorials demonstrate simple wireless communication but progress to demonstrations where a teacher may control an entire class of cyber:bots through the Python’s terminal!

Python + Electronics

Parallax is developing a tutorial series for studying electronics and pre-engineering principles, called “What’s a Microcontroller? with Python and micro:bit. “

A custom-designed card-edge adapter connects the micro:bit module and its battery pack to a breadboard.  All micro:bit I/O pins become available for circuit-building with real-world electronic components.

The Parallax CYBERscope web app for Chrome browsers accompanies the hardware. This tool allows the micro:bit to function as a multimeter and oscilloscope, equipping students to learn about electronics and control signals hands-on.