The Python micro boot camp for NICAR 2015 in Atlanta.
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Python micro boot camp at #NICAR15 in Atlanta

Want to upgrade your data skills? Come learn the Python programming language in this three-hour micro boot camp. Geared toward beginners, this class with go over language basics and introduce you to key concepts. You'll then take your new Python skills and learn how to read, manipulate and analyze data from a spreadsheet.

All are welcome, though some familiarity with spreadsheets and the command line will certainly help.

Let's use bundles for this class. Sign up if you haven't already. Everything we'll cover in this session is included in this Github repository.

In the event of spotty internet connection, we'll have the bundles on the machines, and we can use the Anaconda distro of Python's interactive interpreter in Windows PowerShell.

Schedule for the session

Introduction (~40 min total)

  • Get folks setup with Wakari (~15 min)
  • Who are we? (~5 min)
  • What is Python? (What's the meaning of life?) (~10 min)
  • Work we've done with Python (~10 min)

Project #1: Python basics (45 - 60 min)

  • Explain the language's components. Primarily focuses on:
    • Data types
    • Functions
  • Working through Project #1
    • Learn I/O operations
    • Working with CSV files
    • Manipulating types

For this project, we'll start with a CSV. Let's write some basic scripts to see what we're working with. Then we'll introduce some key Python types like strings, integers, lists, slicing and loops.

After a white board exercise, we'll start with a file of pseudocode, and we'll walk through writing the program in Python code, running the file at the command line.

We'll hold your hand through it, step by step.

Project #2: (~60 min)

  • Practical example of using python for data analysis
  • We'll walk through the script
    • What does each block of code do?
    • Why are making certain choices?
  • We'll have you walk through
    • Fill in the blanks with code that does what the comments describe
    • User as your cheatsheet
    • Ask questions, request help

We have a CSV of baseball player salaries. Let's figure out who makes the most money and examine some other biographical information about them, using dictionaries.

The Wakari bundle

That's all, folks!

At the end of the day, we'll send you home with with:

  • A lightning dash through basic variables, types and functions.
  • the working, commented code for each project from our git repo
  • a walkthrough for setting up your machine at home with Python, version control and virtualenvs.
  • Good libraries to explore with strong tutorials
  • lifetime support guarantee from us & PythonJournos


If you're working through this code at home and have trouble, please let us know.

The best option is to file an issue report of the bug so we can help you.

You can also reach out to any of us on Twitter or ping PythonJournos.