Athenian After School, Spring 2021–22

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Class Description

Learn to program a computer, or further develop your programming skills, using a professional-strength block-based language called Snap!. Snap! is similar to Scratch but has many additional powerful features.

The Beauty and Joy of Computing computer science curriculum comes to us from the University of California at Berkeley. BJC was made first for university students, and later was adapted for use in high school, and very recently was adapted for use in middle schools.

Professional programmer and Athenian after-school and summer teacher Dave Briccetti was part of a small pilot group of computer science teachers trained this summer on the middle school curriculum. He has been teaching BJC to students at an independent school in Lafayette, and to some of his private students since the beginning of this school year. Here is more about Dave’s teaching experience.

No Experience Required, but Challenging for All

This course is appropriate for students at all levels of programming experience. It is self paced, so you can go fast or slow.


The course is organized into units, labs, and activities.

Physical Computing

The course includes a hardware unit, where we will program micro:bits.

Classroom Resources


Intro to the Beauty and Joy of Computing

BJC Introduction from U.C. Berkeley Professor Dan Garcia

Computing in the News

Each day we will spend a few minutes presenting and discussing a news item about computers.

U.S. FBI says it disrupted Russian hackers

Unit 1: Functions and Data

Let’s start together, and later you can go at your own speed.


Computing in the News

Driverless cars can be tricked into seeing red traffic lights as green

Continuing: Unit 1: Functions and Data


Computing in the News

This ‘Tamper-Evident Container’ Will Snitch if Anyone Tries to Meddle With What’s Inside

Continuing: Unit 1: Functions and Data


Computing in the News

US drone company Zipline starts delivering medicine in Japan

Unit 1 Lab 4: Image Manipulation, Activity 1

More Free Play with micro:bits

Servo motors


BJC Hardware Unit

Some students started making interactive “pets”.


Computing in the News

The X-Ray Tech That Reveals Chip Designs

Keep working on interactive pets or other projects.


Computing in the News

This High Schooler Invented a Low-Cost, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm

Let’s spend some time with Snap!, then micro:bits.


Computing in the News


Adobe Illustrator and laser cutting

micro:bit with Microblocks


Adobe Illustrator and laser cutting

Several students learned to make an object in Illustrator and send it to and operate the laser cutter.

micro:bit with Microblocks

One student continued working on a game in Snap!.


Computing in the News

Smart tech is helping to save China’s giant pandas

Adobe Illustrator and laser cutting

micro:bit with Microblocks