The Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) is an introductory computer science curriculum developed at the University of California, Berkeley, intended for non-CS majors at the high school junior through undergraduate freshman level. It was one of the five initial pilot programs for the AP CS Principles course being developed by the College Board and the National Science Foundation. We offer it as CS 10 at Berkeley.
Computing has changed the world in profound ways. It has opened up wonderful new ways for people to connect, design, research, play, create, and express themselves. However, just using a computer is only a small part of the picture. The real transformative and empowering experience comes when one learns how to program the computer, to translate ideas into code. This course teaches students how to do exactly that, using SNAP! (based on Scratch), one of the friendliest programming languages ever invented. It's purely graphical, which means programming involves simply dragging blocks around, and building bigger blocks out of smaller blocks.
But this course is far more than just learning to program. We focus on some of the "Big Ideas" of computing, such as abstraction, design, recursion, concurrency, simulations, and the limits of computation. We show some beautiful applications of computing that have changed the world, talk about the history of computing, and where it will go in the future. Throughout the course, relevance is emphasized: relevance to the student and to society. As an example, the final project is completely of the students' choosing, on a topic most interesting to them. The overarching theme is to expose students to the beauty and joy of computing. We are especially excited about bringing computing (through this course) to traditionally under-represented groups in computing, i.e., women and ethnic minorities.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1138596. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
|Our "FRABJOUS CS" (Framing a Rigorous Approach to Beauty and Joy for Outreach to Underrepresented Students in Computing at Scale) NSF-funded project: one-page summary and full proposal.|