Friday, May 19, 2017

2017 Frank Willson Memorial Award Goes To Katie Cunningham And Barbara Shaurette

Every year the Python Software Foundation awards the Frank Willison Memorial Award to a member(s) of the Python community. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding contributions that Python community members have made having began as an award, “established in memory of Frank Willison, a Python enthusiast and O'Reilly editor-in-chief, who died in July 2001”.

The Python Software Foundation has awarded the 2017 Frank Willison Award to Katie Cunningham and Barbara Shaurette in recognition of their work creating Young Coders classes.  Cunningham and Shaurette have gone above and beyond making the Young Coders teaching materials freely available.

The program began at PyCon 2013 in Santa Clara and was an immediate success. The follow-up blog post is the second most popular post in PyCon's history by a wide margin. Additionally the event was one of the most talked about topics of the 2013 conference.

Lynn Root and Jesse Noller pitched the idea to Cunningham asking her to lead it. Cunningham  then reached out to Shaurette seeking her assistance, or as she said, “Omg help!”

Shaurette has experience teaching early childhood education. Her experience teaching younger students came in handy as she reworked materials used for adult classes into the materials the program uses today. The class includes Raspberry Pis, keyboards, and a mouse that the students were allowed to take with them, along with two books Python for Kids and Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners.

The first class for students aged 10 to 12 did not go without hitches.  That year there were a lot of technical issues with the Raspberry Pis. Noah Kantrowitz saved the day helping Cunningham and Barbara getting the Raspberry Pi’s set up. “The setup is a little complex, but he set the guidelines for what equipment we use, and how we plan the classroom every year,” Shaurette said.

“There were moments setting up that I said, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work,” Cunningham  recalls.

That first class was eight hours. Then Katie and Barbara wrapped up and did it again the next day for a second a time with a whole new class.

By the end of the first day it was already a noted success. “The enthusiasm around it was insane. People were so excited that we were doing it. We were off in our own corner and not central to the conference, but people were stopping by and peeking in,” Cunningham  explains.

Once the kids were let loose to experiment, they tried all sorts of things.  “I don't think you'd ever see that kind of experimentation in a classroom full of adults, who would more likely do everything in their power not to break their computers,”  Shaurette wrote of the kids’ ability to learn, write, and run code.

The second day was a whole new class, but this time it was a group of 13 to 16 year olds, and just as successful. “One thing that I find is how energizing the kids get at the end,” Cunningham said.

Not long after that, Young Coders was approached by the PyOhio and PyTennessee organizers. Both conferences have held Young Coders nearly every year since.  Brad Montgomery has taken over responsibility in PyTennessee, but  Cunningham  still runs the workshop at PyOhio.

Since the start of the program  Cunningham  and Shaurette have taught over 400 kids!

We thank Cunningham and Shaurette  for their work in actively promoting and teaching Python to a new generation of programmers.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Attending PyCon 2017? Consider Becoming a Sponsor!

As PyCon approaches, we would like to invite attendees and members of our community to join the Python Software Foundation as a sponsor. Your generous support enables the PSF’s mission to promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language.

Thanks to our current sponsors, some of our recent accomplishments include:

  • Organizing successful PyCons. Last year’s event brought together 3,388 attendees from 49 countries, a new record for PyCon! Our sponsors’ support enabled us to award $94,000.00 USD in financial aid to 142 attendees who would not otherwise have been able to attend. This year we were able to  expand upon our financial aid by awarding $111,653.00 USD to 194 attendees.
  • Hiring more staff. In addition to adding more blog writers to keep the public aware of the most recent PSF news, we have added an IT Manager to help maintain our growing infrastructure, as well as an additional accountant to deal with the high demand of requests for financial support from all over the world.
  • Funding great projects. So far this year we have approved $70,000.00 USD in grants to over 60 events. At this rate 2017 will surpass last year’s total of $265,000.00 USD in grants to 137 events in 45 different countries.
  • Acknowledging awesome Python contributors. Community Service Awards are given out quarterly, honoring individuals who support our mission. Read about recent CSA recipients on our blog.
  • Implementing a Python Ambassador program. This program provides funding for ambassadors to travel locally to perform Python outreach. This is currently in trial mode in South America and is going very well. If the trend continues, we will expand this program to additional locales.

We plan to continue our efforts in the coming years by developing fiscal sponsorship support for Python projects, implementing a Customer Relationship Management system to better communicate with individual PSF members, and continuing to support Python programmers worldwide.

We love to hear from happy sponsors about why they contribute to the PSF. Here are what a few have to say:

"ActiveState is proud to be a founding member and continued supporter of PSF. We recognize how important Python is for developers, IT administrators and data scientists--it continues to evolve and grow in popularity as a very powerful language with many use cases. We're excited about its future and helping the foundation's goal in advancing the language."
- Bart Copeland, ActiveState President & CEO

“Sponsoring PSF brings tremendous opportunities for the entire Python community to actively participate, connect, and engage in many meaningful ways. It’s an opportunity to enrich the language by encouraging active dialogue on future directions, and to nurture compelling new ideas and projects, support the accompanying logistics and infrastructure needs, and uphold the open source values of the community. Intel continues to foster innovation with Python and is committed to contributing to the growth of this vibrant ecosystem.”
- Sonali DeSouza, Product Manager - Intel® Python & Scripting tools team

“‘Work on stuff that matters’ is one of O’Reilly’s core principles, and we know how very much open source matters. The open source community spurs innovation, shares knowledge, encourages growth, and creates industries. The Python Software Foundation is a prime example of the power of open source, showing how focused, thoughtful, and consistent efforts can create  a community whose impact extends far beyond meetups and lines of code. O'Reilly is proud to continue to sponsor this great foundation."
- Rachel Roumeliotis, Strategic Content Director at O'Reilly and Chair of OSCON

“Delivering digital projects in Python is the core of our business; it solves the needs of our clients. The PSF does a fantastic job of protecting and investing in the future of Python. Sponsoring the PSF is how we not only give back for the past, but also protect our future.”
- Steve Hawkes, Director, Blanc LTD

If you value what we do at PSF, we hope that you too will consider becoming a sponsor. For details about PSF Sponsorship and to get started, please visit our Sponsors page.