Learning to code isn’t just about 1s an 0s. It’s about opening doors, says Will Grondski, business owner and Python programming instructor. In addition to employment possibilities, learning to code can help you develop cognitive and communication skills that can improve any area of your life.

Grondski is offering a free workshop in computer programming for beginners, ages 13 and up, on Tuesday, August 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Mercer County Library’s West Windsor branch on North Post Road. Registration is recommended. Call 609-275-8901 or register online at www.mcl.org. Based on interest, the class may be offered on an ongoing basis in September. Those interested should bring their laptops with a downloaded version of Python 3.4.2, available at www.python.org/downloads. (Use the specific release chart and scroll down to select the version.)

Grondski chose Python as the programming language for teaching this class because it is among the easier languages to learn and is widely used in several arenas including web and internet development, scientific and numeric computing, desktop graphical interfaces, business software development, and education. Several large companies use Python including Google, Drop Box, Honeywell, Corel, HP, Phillips, and United Space Alliance, to name a few.

Created by Guido van Rossum, former Google software engineer and current Drop Box staff engineer, the language was named after the BBC television program, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” a sketch comedy series that aired in late 1960s into the early 1970s.

While Grondski studied business and took computer science courses at Rider University, Class of 1999, he credits the internet and online video sources as major tools for learning the how-to of coding and appreciating the broader benefits of learning to program. In a recent TEDx video, Princeton University and MIT graduate Mitchel Resnick compares learning to code with learning to read and write.

A LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, Resnick says,

“When you become fluent with reading and writing, it’s not something you’re doing just to become a professional writer but it’s useful for everybody to learn to read and write. Again, it’s the same thing with coding. Most people won’t grow up to become professional computer scientists or programmers, but those skills of thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, working collaboratively, skills you develop when you code in Scratch [and other programs] are things people can use no matter what they’re doing in their work lives.”

Grondski, who is the founder and owner of WJG Collection Agency, finds that having these skills has helped him solve problems and get results for his clients.

“Most of us don’t need to be reminded that computers are everywhere today,” he says. They are commonly used in cell phones and all kinds of hand-held devices, as well as larger items like home appliances and cars, to name a few. From a career and social perspective, it is good to have a basic understanding of how programming languages make it possible for these devices to work.

No matter what your career path, Grondski sees computer programming as a beneficial skill and computer literacy as a necessity.

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