Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meet the Coulson Tough Elementary Python Club

As we all know, one of the PSF’s main purposes is to educate and advocate for the use of Python. What makes us so successful in this area is the enthusiasm with which the community is willing to share its time and knowledge. For me, hearing these stories is the best part of working with the PSF. We have recently heard from an educator in Texas who is seriously changing students' lives by teaching them to code with Python. She is Fifth Grade Science Teacher, Melissa Dylag, of Coulson Tough Elementary School, a K - 6th school in South East Texas.
Melissa’s adventure started in 2013 when she was approached by a parent who urged her to introduce her students to the world of coding and computer science. Using the non-profit  tutorial, "Hour of Code,"  Melissa taught each of her fifth grade classes for three days. Melissa inspired Technology teachers Noreen Reid and Shelley Moya, who in turn taught other students; by last year, almost every student in the school (about 1000) had completed an hour of computer science instruction via the free website.
Coulson Tough Python Club 

The students' response was fantastic, so Melissa wanted to do more to empower her students. She recruited the help of her son (a recent computer science graduate and now a Silicon Valley software engineer) to develop a full intro course using Python. According to Melissa, Python was a good choice because it offers my students everything to build a proper foundation for future computer science instruction.
Melissa, along with helpers Noreen and Shelley, are learning Python as they go. They teach about 30 students, an approximately equal mix of boys and girls in 4th, 5th and 6th grades, every Wednesday morning before the regular school day. Kids and teachers in the Python Club are loving it–they’re even making T-shirts.  
Children are coming to school over 45 minutes early in the morning to code. We have a line of cars at 6:50 in the morning for students that can’t wait to come in to code. PYTHON is a huge success and I am turning children away because we don’t have enough computers in the lab to accommodate them all.
Melissa shared with us some of her recent Python Club lessons lessons.  Please take a look--I think they're terrific. (I was especially impressed with the wisdom of one of her early slides: The biggest challenge in coding is to learn how to make changes and how to recover if the changes fail.)
6th grader Payton Gwynn

The parents are also thrilled. One parent emailed that her 6th grade daughter …has really enjoyed learning programming. She takes a picture of what she does on Wednesday mornings and can’t wait to show me what she has created…. I love that this club is exposing girls to programming.
Melissa plans to expand to offer two classes next year: an advanced class so that this year’s students can continue, and another introductory one. She needs to get approval from her administration, but she is enthusiastic and determined.
I want to do what is best for the children. We all love PYTHON and we are thrilled to share what we are learning… We are pumped to be a PYTHON school.
Please join me in thanking Melissa, her helpers, students, and all the teachers like her. We are pumped to have them as part of our community!
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at

Thursday, November 12, 2015

PyCon Japan 2015: A Success

Last month PyCon Japan took place from October 9 - 12th at the Tokyo International Exchange Center Plaza Heisei. The PSF has recently received a report from the Chair, Takanori Suzuki, and it appears that the conference was a great success. 
As a bit of background, the first PyCon Japan was held in 2011. The conference was a one-day affair with talks comprising three tracks. 247 people attended. Each year since then, PyCon Japan has grown in size and complexity. Last month’s sold-out conference had 602 attendees, with 80 people attending tutorials, and more than 50 staying for a fourth day to participate in Sprints. 
There were 43 sponsors. Sponsoring at the Diamond level was the Japanese firm MonotaRo. Other sponsors included PayPal, O'Reilly, CodeIQ, JetBrains, Nikkei, and the Japanese online marketplace, Curama. The PSF was happy to contribute as a Gold level sponsor.
There were 32 talks–11 given in English and 21 in Japanese–covering a variety of topics, including Pandas, Data Analysis, Metrics, Grep, Asyncio, Translating code into non-English, Erlang, and more. 

There were two keynotes–one in English by PSF Fellow, Hynek Schlawack, entitled Beyond Grep: Pragmatic Logging and Metrics; and one in Japanese by Haruo Sato, entitled Possibilities of Python, which was also the theme of the conference.
There was also a panel discussion on Diversity and the Future of the Community. Due to outreach efforts, the Japanese Python community has become more diverse – more women are participating in programming, as was clear from the groups represented on the panel: Moderator, Makabi Love, of PyLadies Tokyo, was joined by representatives from RailsGirls, Java Women, Django Girls, and Women Who Code in a discussion about how to increase diversity.Rounding out the conference were a poster session, jobs fair, lightning talks, and a children’s workshop. An additional feature of the conference was an official chat session, set up in both English and Japanese for participants to communicate with each other.
Slides and videos from conference talks can be viewed here,  and at The Possibilities of Python.  For more photos, see PyCon JP Photo Album.
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at

Thursday, November 05, 2015

First-Ever PyCaribbean Coming This February!

At the October 28th meeting of the Board of Directors of the PSF, the following resolution was passed:
"RESOLVED, that the Python Software Foundation sponsor PyCaribbean on February 20-21, 2016 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in the amount of $3000 USD."
This will be the first-ever PyCaribbean, and the PSF is proud to be a Platinum-level sponsor. The venue will be the headquarters of the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE) located at Calle Capitán Eugenio de Marchena 26, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
According to organizer, Leonardo Jiminez, they are expecting approximately 300 - 350 people from all over the Americas and the Caribbean. This is a great size for a conference, allowing for both intimacy and breadth of content. As Leornardo puts it:
"I think we have the spirit you can find in PyCon but in a more concentrated way and with better weather."
Better weather and gorgeous beaches!
Photo Credit: CC License

Based on proposals received so far, it appears that the talks will be quite diverse. Along with such expected topics as strategies for improving data analysis, Leonardo particularly mentioned a talk about the adventures of someone teaching Python in Latin America in his car.
Of course, that adventurer is none other than Manuel Kaufmann! Some of you may recall that last year the PSF funded his project, and it was featured in a couple of posts to this blog: Python in Argentina and Highly Contagious. And in addition to what is sure to be a fascinating talk by Manuel Kaufmann, there will also be a keynote by the PSF’s very own Brandon Rhodes, who is also the organizer of the upcoming PyCon 2016 in Portland.
I asked Leonardo to tell us a little about his local Python community. Here’s what he said:
Santa Domingo
Photo Credit:  CC License
"The Python Dominicana Usergroup was the first usergroup formed in Santo Domingo and after that a lot of progress happened. We have more than three years meeting consistently every month. The experience has been really transformative for the city. We have done road trips, hackathons, and a lot of events to promote the language. . .[This work] is paying off with all the growth we see in Software Development locally."  
And when I asked about his own interest in Python, he gave a great answer:
"I fell in love with Python in High School while reading How to Think Like a Computer Scientist in Spanish. I really enjoy being part of this community, which I think is the killer feature of Python."
I have to agree that the community is our killer feature, so I’m hoping that some of you will be able to participate in PyCaribbean by giving a talk or by attending. You have until November 20th to submit a proposal, so please give it some thought. Of course, if you don’t have a talk prepared, the organizers would still love to see you there. And could there be any better vacation than to visit the Dominican Republic in February? In fact, this conference looks so good to me that I may see you there myself!
For further information, you can contact the organizers (at or Also you can follow them on Twitter (at

I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at

Monday, November 02, 2015

Register Now for PyCon 2016!

Once again, the PSF is proud to underwrite and produce the largest gathering of the international Python community at PyCon 2016!

The 2016 conference will be held in Portland, Oregon, and will take place from May 28th to June 5th -- a little later in the spring than previous PyCons.

Those of you who have attended previous PyCons know what a fantastic event these are. Education, advocacy, community building. . . all take place at a PyCon. If you've never been, you can check out these talks from last year's PyCon 2015 in Montreal.

But nothing can fully give the full experience, the excitement and flavor, the connections forged and strengthened, the sheer intensity of spending several days with a large community of bright, energetic, and engaged Pythonistas, sharing their knowledge and skills and teaching and learning with each other, as attending a PyCon itself.

The conference schedule will begin on the weekend with tutorials, then there will be five full tracks of talks, over 100 total, during the three main conference days. As usual, development sprints will follow, offering a unique opportunity for developers to work in "dream teams" on open source projects. And of course there will be the Summits, Expo Hall, Poster Session, Sponsor Workshops, Lightning Talks, Open Spaces, Job Fair, PyLadies Auction, and last, but hardly least, the dynamic and inviting "Hallway Track," that make for such a vibrant conference. All of this, along with ample (organized, spontaneous, and even some chaotic) social and cultural activities (including the annual Opening Reception and 5K Charity Run). The venue will be the centrally-located Convention Center which will allow for easy exploration of the fabulous city of Portland, Oregon.

By Another Believer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As this year's PyCon organizer, Brandon Rhodes, tells us on the PyCon blog,

PyCon offers tremendous value for both individuals and businesses. PyCon’s three main conference days offer keynote speeches, nearly a hundred talks, Open Space rooms for meetings and workshops, and an Expo Hall where you can meet dozens of sponsor companies and open source non-profits. More than 3,000 fans and contributors to Python are expected to attend the conference!

Another feature of PyCons as opposed to other tech conferences that must be mentioned is the diversity of speakers and attendees. For both 2014 and 2015 in Montreal, a full 33% of talks were given by women. Not only does this make for a more varied range of content and a higher degree of excellence (since the work of women programmers contributes to a greater pool of proposals from which the final talks are selected), but for a truly welcoming community. As someone who has attended the last four PyCons (the first of which, before I even became a Python user), I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you come, you will not be disappointed!

And, please, if you're working on something interesting, or care to share some insights, experiences, project development, or theoretical observations, consider proposing a talk, tutorial, or a poster session.

Registration is now open, and, if you hurry, you can qualify for the reduced cost of an Early Bird ticket. If the past is any indication, these tickets, and all remaining ones, will sell-out quickly. Don't be left out! Register today!

You can also view the announcement on the PyCon Blog, or go directly to Registration and Financial Aid.

I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at