Python Camp: Programming for Beginners#

Brought to you by GW Libraries & Academic Innovation

What Is Python Camp?#

Python Camp is a non-credit, hands-on, intensive mini-course offered by GW Libraries and Academic Innovation (GW LAI) for the GW community. Python Camp introduces foundational programming practice using the Python language, with a focus on building skill through both team-based activities and self-guided exercises. The aim is to expose participants to the core concepts of programming, while providing a sufficient foundation in Python syntax and programming patterns to allow participants to build upon their learning in other contexts.

Participation is free for members of the GW community, though application is required. While we are not able to offer academic credit, participants who successfully complete Python Camp will receive a certificate of completion from GW LAI.

Whom Is It For?#

Participation is open to members of the GW community, but the course is designed for those without prior experience programming and who are not currently enrolled in a programming course at GW. If you have struggled to learn a programming language in the past but are motivated to try again, we encourage you to apply! Python Camp aims to foster an inclusive environment that is responsive to learners with diverse backgrounds, goals, and learning styles. Our approach to teaching focuses on practical, “real-world” examples, in a setting that emphasizes peer-to-peer collaboration and hands-on practice over lecture and theory.

Previous Python Camp cohorts have included undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff, representing a wide range of academic disciplines: public health, economics, bioinformatics, political science, engineering, business, anthropology, and many others. Hence our participants’ goals have been diverse. But if you

  • have a desire to work with data more efficiently,

  • want to learn a modern, all-purpose programming language,

  • enjoy a challenge,

  • and enjoy learning alongside others, then Python Camp may be for you!

What Does It Involve?#

Over the course of four days, participants will spend approximately four hours a day together, working in small teams on activities facilitated by Python Camp instructors.

In addition, participants will complete approximately one to three hours of self-guided homework lessons each day. These lessons are intended to be done individually and serve to prepare participants for the team-based learning on the following day. The homework includes a handful of shorter exercises to test participants’ knowledge, which will be graded.

Successful completion of these exercises, as well as attendance and participation during all four days of Python Camp, will confer a certificate of achievement.

Please note that Python Camp is an in-person, on-site experience. We are best able to support the active-learning goals of Python Camp when we are all physically in the same room together, and we don’t have the resources to replicate this experience for remote learners at this time.

During Python Camp, you can expect the following:

  • To gain exposure to the basics of the Python language, including variables, simple and complex data types, loops, conditionals, and classes.

  • To work with these concepts in a context that emphasizes their application to practical problems.

  • To practice designing data structures, writing user stories, and interpreting error messages.

  • To practice team-based programming, with a focus on communication, knowledge-sharing, and brainstorming.

  • To get to know others who share an interest in learning to program, to work together to solve problems in a supportive environment, and to have fun!

When and Where?#

In the fall of 2024, Python Camp will be offered on two separate occasions. The curriculum for both Camps is identical. Please apply to the one that works best for you.

November 2024#




November 21, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

November 22, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

November 25, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

November 26, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

December 2024#




December 16, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

December 17, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

December 18, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

December 19, 2024


1 pm - 5 pm

How Do I Apply?#

Because demand is typically high and space is limited, we give priority to those who consider themselves beginners at programming, who have not recently learned a language similar to Python (e.g., R), and who don’t currently have other opportunities to learn Python through their coursework at GW.

To apply, please submit the application form, indicating which Camp you wish to attend.

Applications are due by November 1, 2024.

Decisions will be announced within two weeks of the application deadline.

If Python Camp isn’t right for you, or if we can’t accommodate you this time, GW Libraries offers other opportunities to learn Python every semester. Check out our events page for more info.


Python Camp is made possible by the contributions and support of many present and former colleagues at GW LAI, including Daphna Atias, Debbie Bezanson, Emily Blumenthal, Alex Boyd, Rachel Burley, Ricky Graham, Dan Kerchner, Josh McDonald, Marcus Peerman, Robin Pokorski, Megan Potterbusch, Dolsy Smith, Max Turer, and Laura Wrubel.

The Python Camp curriculum draws inspiration from Professor Lorena Barba’s OpenEdX course Get Data Off the Ground with Python, as well as the pedagogy and curricula of The Carpentries.

Day 1 Homework

Day 2 Homework

Day 3 Homework

Final Homework

Extra Practice