Conferences and Journals


Math with a Computer Scientist

Can Virtual Reality be used to motivate High Ability Learners to learn Bricklayer on their own?

Presenters: Beth Maloney and Victor Winter
Event: Topics in Education Symposium (TIES) 2018, Omaha NE.

Abstract: Today’s middle school students interact with technology at a fairly sophisticated level. This is especially pronounced for high ability learners (HAL) that have an explicitly stated interest in coding. Furthermore, instructional information available on the web, especially information in the form of YouTube videos has significantly impacted learning modalities. The result is a cultural mindset where digitally literate students increasingly look to the web for instruction on a broad range of topics. This talk explores the learning potential of this milieu. Specifically, is such an environment suitable for learning how to write Bricklayer code? Such code, when executed, produces a three dimensional Bricklayer artifact.

Our learning experiment seeks to leverage the fact that Bricklayer artifacts can be embedded in virtual reality environments. A VR system, such as the HTC Vive, then provides a highly engaging mode of interaction with Bricklayer artifacts. The question is whether such a VR carrot will motivate middle school HAL students to take a more active role in learning how to code (i.e., construct Bricklayer artifacts) on their own.

Agile, Like a Tech Startup

Presenter: Charlie Cuddy
Event: Topics in Education Symposium (TIES) 2018, Omaha NE.

Abstract: Bricklayer is an educational ecosystem in which visual art provides the canvas for developing expressing computational and mathematical skills. One compelling aspect of visual art is that it provides ample opportunities for enhanced student engagement as well as personalized learning.

This presentation describes a novel instructional approach, underway at Bryan High, that has given rise to a classroom environment in which students play an active role in developing computational and mathematical abilities as framed by a Bricklayer curriculum. An important aspect of the classroom culture is that students actively collaborate, share ideas, and assist one other. The introduction of project management tools into this setting has created a learning environment which teams give weekly peer reports on the progress and future plans for their (art) projects. The result can perhaps be best described as an agile classroom where student behavior more closely resembles that of employees at a tech startup than that of a traditional classroom.

Developing Spatial Abilities – Bricklayer Style


Presenter: Victor Winter
Event: Topics in Education Symposium (TIES) 2018, Omaha NE.

Abstract: Neuroscience has revealed that mathematical thinking involves the brain’s visual pathways. Research into this phenomenon has established that visual and spatial abilities play an extremely important role when it comes to attaining advanced mathematical abilities. Furthermore, a growing body of research shows that individuals can improve their visual and spatial skills through interaction with block-based domains as well as engagement in the visual arts.

This talk describes a variety of activities and web apps, developed by, that involve visual and spatial reasoning. Come and exercise your brain’s visual pathways – Bricklayer style.

Inquiry-Based Learning Activities for Geometry Using Bricklayer

Presenter: Kate Sherwin
Event: Topics in Education Symposium (TIES) 2018, Omaha NE.

Abstract: Join us in this hands-on workshop to explore a customizable inquiry-based learning unit for geometry concepts that is aligned with Common Core Math Standards. This new approach uses Bricklayer, a free online platform designed to teach math and coding using art, to support students as they imagine, discover, and create to learn coordinate geometry.