Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Project Euler and Python

Having done the workshop last week, I didn't have anything more to ask of my CS312 Advanced Topics class. All of them were graduating, and this week was supposed to be their finals. Why did I have to inflict another class on them? Or on myself?

Alas, such generosity was not to be. This week, we had an evaluation team rating our division, with accreditation hanging in the balance. They would be visiting us in our natural environment to see how well we taught. That meant I would have to add one more session to my Advanced Topics class.

As it turns out, I didn't need to anymore. The evaluation team did pay brief visits to my Operating Systems lab and lecture classes yesterday, but there were no more visits today. All the same, my students were all there: so why waste time when we could be, you know, learnin' and stuff?

Since we only skimmed on Python the last time (along with other scripting languages), I dedicated today to that. Then I pointed them out to Project Euler, and told them to do the problems using Python.

Now, my class is mature enough that I didn't really expect a whole lot of bellyaching. But I needn't have worried. I got quite the opposite reaction: they loved it!

For the next three hours, I couldn't get them to peer away from their monitors or take their hands off their keyboards. Probably the only time they did was when I showed them some of the basics. The level of concentration was so intense, it was scary. I called my co-teacher Michelle to witness the phenomenon; same result. I was afraid if we bothered them too much, they'd snarl at us.

At the end of the lab class, we had one guy finish nine problems, and most of the others finishing three or four. I rounded it off with another couple of hours explaining the rest of the mechanics of Python.

I only really have two regrets: one, why didn't I do this before; and two, where were the evaluators when my students were already acting at their best?