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Coding For Kids: What is Python Programming?

Have you heard of Python coding or ever wondered what language is most useful for your child or teen to learn? Either at school or even to set them up for their future, be it at university or later on in their career – or even as a hobby? Python is one of the most popular languages in both industry, research, and many other creative fields and is an incredibly fantastic and easy language to get started with! In addition to this, Python is taught at GCSE, A-Level, and at University, so learning Python early on will give you a head start academically and in your projects! Read on to find out why and how learning Python today can help your child!

What is Python Programming? 

Python is a software language, which means developers use it to make programs! A program is a set of instructions given to a computer to complete a task. Python is very special, as it is what we call an ‘interpreted’, ‘object-oriented’, ‘high level’ programming language. Don’t worry – read on to find out just how cool python is!

So Python is the language that we (humans) write to tell the computer what to do. But computers don’t actually ‘speak’ Python. Computers only read in 0s and 1s, literally meaning on and off. On and Off commands are made by something called a transistor, the thing that physically turns a switch on and off. So if computers only speak in 0s and 1s, how do we communicate with them? 

Binary code is what we use call combinations of 1s and 0s, where each digit represents one transistor. Binary code is grouped into ‘bytes’, made up of 8 ‘bits’, which reflect 8 transistors in the computer. We can make human words with binary code, for example, “hello” in binary code is: 0110100001100101011011000110110001101111. Modern computers contain billions of transistors to process this information! But imagine the number of 0s and 1s we would have to type in if we just wanted to have a simple conversation!

Why should my child learn Python?

Imagine trying to understand this!

programming code

That would be a very very long and boring job!

This is where programming languages like Python become very useful! 

What we do is we have ‘human-friendly’ languages, which we code in, like Python! This is then translated into binary code for our computer to understand and execute.

The code inside a Python program is called the source code. But, how does the computer translate our source code into the 0s and 1s that it understands?

There are 3 steps!

  1. The source code is translated into assembly language.
  2. The assembly code is translated into machine language.
  3. The machine language is directly executed as binary code.

coding diagram

Assembly language is a very low-level language, which uses predefined words and numbers to represent binary patterns (our 0s and 1s). This looks much more like computer language and is really hard for us humans to understand!

programming languages

Low or High-level languages just refers to how ‘far away’ the language is from binary code (0s and 1s). For example, a low-level language would look very much like binary code, but is more difficult for us humans to read and interpret! High-level languages, like Python, are designed to be much nicer for us humans to understand, and they make talking to the computer much easier. 

So, our Python code must first be translated from its source code into assembly language. It does this using an ‘interpreter’. Python is an interpreted language, meaning the interpreter translates the source code, reading and executing the code line by line. The other way to do this is to ‘compile’ the whole program in one go, which happens in a compiled language like C++. The assembly code is then sent to be converted into the machine language, which the computer can understand and execute directly as binary code.

Learn Python Coding at Fire Tech

Whether you’re a beginner or wanting to dive deeper into your Python knowledge and skills, we have four different courses for ages 9 to 17. Junior Python is for 9 to 12-year-olds and Teen Coding with Python, Teen Coding with Python II, and Teen Coding with Python – Build Amazing Projects for teens aged 13 to 17.

About the writer

Alice Matthews has a Master’s degree in Physics from the University of Manchester. She loves all things STEM-related and is passionate about inspiring and encouraging more young girls and women to pursue STEM subjects and careers. Check out Alice’s blog to get in touch or find out more.