One of my projects this Summer is to create a working version of my Practice Math project. The goal of this project is to create a site that my kids can use to practice their math.

The idea was to create a simple site that would randomly generate math equations that kids could use to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. To do this, the site would need to have the following functions, at least in the first phase of my project:

- Randomly generate two numbers, and a math operator to create an equation;
- Evaluate the solution to the equation;
- Prompt the child to offer an answer to the equation;
- Compare the child’s answer with the actual solution, and give feedback;
- Make sure that equations don’t produce negative solutions (our kids haven’t really learned how to work with numbers less than zero); and
- Round answers to two decimal places (it can be more than this, I just picked two decimal places for now).

## Version 1 – the Javascript Edition

My initial version of the project was based on Javascript. You can find that one here, on GitHub. I wasn’t able to make much progress beyond randomly generating the numbers and math operators that would be used in equations.

I hadn’t worked out how to evaluate the randomly generated numbers, more move much beyond point two in my list of features. I’m certain it’s possible, I just hadn’t worked it out yet.

## Version 2 – the Python Edition

I recently decided to return to learning Python. I last attempted to learn Python about a year and a half ago. At the time, I was learning Python 2.7.x. I didn’t move beyond loops at the time.

This time, I decided to start with Python 3.x, which is the current version. I’ve been learning when I have time, and I really like the language. I decided to revisit my Practice Math project and create a Python version to help me learn the language.

I finally sat down this morning, and worked on a script that does all six of the things I want it to do. I’ve published my code on GitHub, here. Here it is in action:

I can’t take credit for what you see there, not entirely. I borrowed pretty heavily from a few sources to produce the version you see there:

- Generating arithmetic quiz questions – Code Review Stack Exchange
- How to do a calculation on Python with a random operator – Stack Overflow
- How can I randomly choose a maths operator and ask recurring maths questions with it? – Stack Overflow

Cory Kramer’s solution (the third one in this list) was particularly helpful because it helped me split my code into disparate functions. This makes the script a lot easier to read, and tweak.

My current code still has some test stuff in it. For example, the script current prints the two generated numbers, the operator, and the solution so I can check that it’s all working properly:

print("\nThis is for troubleshooting purposes only:")

print(num1) # For testing

print(num2) # For testing

print(op) # For testing

print("\nWhat is {} {} {}? > ".format(num1, op, num2))

solution = round(eval(f"{num1} {op} {num2}"), 2)

print(solution) # For testing

## Next steps

The next step is to create a web interface for this. A command line version is fine to play around with, but for this to be useful, it needs to be a web site. I haven’t worked out how to add a Javascript front-end to this (I believe it’s possible, I have no idea how to do it, though).

What I’ll rather do, though, is use a Python web framework like Django to create a front end for the site. I’m really keen to learn how to do that, partly because I want to port my Modiin Bus project over to Python too at some point (I discovered that the transit data that I’d like to use is available through Python APIs).

At the same time, I also intend figuring out how to represent fractions in the web interface. I know that’s it’s possible to use Javascript to represent fractions on a web page using options such as math.js and MathJax. I’ll look for equivalent options for Python/Django.

There are also a couple niggling issues about the current version that I’d like to resolve too. These likely exist because I’m still very much a Python newbie.

I’m sure there are other improvements I could make to how the script accepts, and processes input from users. I’ll figure that stuff out as I go. For now, I’m pretty please that this core script seems to be working.

Sounds like a cool project. Some extra features to consider:

User management and answer logging so users can log in and the system can track the number questions answered vs the number of correct answers provided.

Once you’ve got user management and answer tracking, you could build a leaderboard to display who’s “winning” at math or per question type and make learning/practising more fun and social.

Hey, I’ve been thinking along similar lines, although probably not with a leaderboard. I think it will be more useful as a personal learning site, as opposed to a social/competitive site.

Still, I might change my thinking about it when I’ve sorted out the web/admin sides.