Best language for highschool bioinformatics course?
June 25, 2009 11:22 AM Subscribe
I'm teaching a course on bioinformatic programming for high schoolers. Which language should I teach it in? And do you have any nifty ideas for easy projects that fall under the bioinformatics header?
It's a six-week, twice-weekly internship for highschoolers with absolutely no programming experience. The catch is, it has to be a bioinformatics course. What language would be best? I think the two contenders are Perl and Python, though I'm open to other options.
Possible Perl Advantages:
- I know Perl, so I won't need to pick up another language and I'd be better at debugging it.
- If the kids go on to AP Comp Sci or a 101 course in college, the language is often Java. Both Perl and Java use C-style syntax.
- The bioinformatics online support for Perl seems better than for Python.
- Long-string manipulation and speed seem much better in Perl.
- Though complex Perl is scary-looking, well-writen basic perl doesn't seem that intimidating.
Possible Python Advantages:
- Less steep learning curve.
- Possibly more resources for beginner programmers.
- The whitespace-is-important thing and there-is-only-one-best-way-of-doing-something thing may be better for teaching good programming techniques.
Also, any basic bioinformatics projects you can think of are much appreciated. The goal is really to teach programming, but the internship requires that it be done through bioinformatic applications.