VizToyz

First posted: May 2, 2007
Last Modified: May 2, 2007

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This mathcast stems from two classes I was teaching in parallel: a Pythonic math class for Saturday Academy, geared for middle and high schoolers, and Python for Wanderers, geared for more experienced adults and meeting weekly in the boyhood home of Linus Pauling. This was in the Spring of 2007.

Concurrently with these classes, the Python community was getting excited about One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), in particular the XO model, slated to run Linux while giving Python a prominent and important role under the hood.

However my own posts to edu-sig were towards clarifying that OLPC and CP4E were and are not synonymous concepts, not just in terms of hardware but in terms of target audience i.e. the "E" stands for "everybody" or "everyone" -- not just children.

That being said, I too was getting excited about the prospect of millions of cheap, kid-friendly laptops going out to the developing world, helping to raise living standards in so many dimensions.

Viztoyz.py is a framework for playing around with VPython's primitives and/or adding more ambitious tests. All it does is cycle through a user-extensible menu, invoking functions with preset defaults. My original goal was to write some "not too fancy" source code that gnubees could eyeball and grok.

However, once the Tetrahedron entered the picture, as one of the viztoyz tests, I felt pulled to write polyhedra.py as a more generic repository for said geometric primitives. Core to my curriculum, if not many others as of 2007, was the concentric hierarchy of polyhedra as developed by the great inventor and American transcendentalist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller.

Whereas my rbf.py already defined said hierarchy, it had become somewhat crufty and ornate over the years, the fate of many a workhorse. So I decided to write something from scratch that'd be more pristine. In fact, given the theme here is "frameworks" and "testing," I decided to leave out a lot of the content, implementing just a smattering of polyhedra to provide direction and clues to any students wishing to take the module further in some chosen direction.

My thanks to both my classes for inspiring me to package this content and share it in world-readable form.

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