Guide

What is Python Coding?

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 Coding? 

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!

Imagine trying to understand this!

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.

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!

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.

What are the benefits of learning Python?

  1. It’s taught at schools and universities!

    Python is taught at schools throughout both GCSEs and A-Levels, and is taught at a higher level at University! By learning Python early on, you will grasp the challenging concepts and be able to push even further when met with projects and challenges throughout your studies! Learn Python to get ahead at school and your future career!

  2. It’s a low-level language (more ‘human-like’)

    High-level languages like Python are really nice and easy for humans to understand, and all the awkward binary language the computer needs is handled by Python’s interpreter! Because of the way code is written in python and interpreted, it is also much easier and quicker to spot mistakes! This makes ‘debugging’ (the process of getting rid of nasty errors!) and solving complex problems more efficiently and manageable!

  3. Python makes use of object-oriented programming!

    Python is also an object-oriented programming language! Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a very useful computer programming model, where the programs are designed around creating and handling ‘objects’. These objects can have different attributes and behaviours, which can be used over and over, using special methods called ‘inheritance’ and ‘polymorphism’. This means programs can be designed in a very organised and clean way, reducing the need for repeated code. This is very important when software developers are working on large, complex, and collaborative projects.

  4. Lots of functionality!

    Python has lots of useful ‘libraries’ and ‘frameworks’ which are like little extensions containing ‘ready-made’ code that you can use to add more functionality to your programs! This is really useful for many different types of projects, such as in web-development, machine learning, data science, computation vision and even making games! Python is also ‘cross-platform’, meaning you can make python programs on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers!

  5. Used lots in industry, and so can support your career! 

    Not only is Python intrinsically brilliant! But it is also super worth learning Python because it is used in so many applications, not only for software developers but so many more! For example, science, engineering, and many areas of research! In addition to this, Python is a really good one to start with, as schools and universities use it in their courses, so the likelihood of your python skills being used again is very high!

    Want to hear about some cool companies that code in Python? I guarantee you use at least one of them every single day!

Some more exciting, but less heard of companies and organisations:

  • Eve Online—a company using Python to simulate the universe in a complex Massive Multiplayer Online game
  • MIT—using Python to discover new antibiotics
  • Exscientia—a Python company leading the Artificial Intelligence drug discovery market
  • AstraZeneca—a pharmaceutical giant; also a Python company since 2001
  • Open Data—a company using Python to battle corruption

What’s covered in our Python Courses?

We cover all the basics, and then get down to the really fun stuff like building your own project!

Here is an extensive list of all the things we cover in our Teen Coding with Python Course.

Day 1 – An Introduction to python and the world of coding!

      • Hello World!
      • Outputs and Variables
      • Inputs and Data Types (int, bool, str)
      • Numbers, numbers, numbers
      • Challenges

Day 2 – If, loops, lists

      • If statements
      • For loops
      • Lists and for loops
      • Indefinite loops

Day 3 – Building functions, data structures, and using Files!

      • Introduction to Functions
      • Data Structures
      • File Input/Output
      • Challenges

Day 4 – Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming

      • Creating and Instantiating Classes
      • Inheritance
      • Day Challenges

Day 5 – Creating Games!

      • Installing Pygame
      • Using Pygame
      • Hack on a Project

Learn Python at Fire Tech

Whether your 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.