Thank you to keynote speakers, workshop presenters, and participants for an amazing experience!!

  • Participant feedback from June 19 Math + Coding Workshops
  • In the news: Cracking the code @ Western
  • Jessica Weber's blog on the math + coding workshops and symposium
  • Videos of keynotes will be posted here within 2 weeks.
  • Symposium proceedings will also be posted by September.
Keynote Speakers

Celia Hoyles

Richard Noss

Yasmin B. Kafai

KEYNOTE #1, Friday 19 June, 9:15 am - R. Noss and C. Hoyles

Revisiting programming to enhance Mathematics learning

There was an explosion of research and development into the relationships and mutual influences of programming and mathematics in the nineteen eighties.  After several decades when programming fell ‘out of fashion’, it has now returned – at least in England - and the time is ripe to revisit this prior research as it has much to tell us. We will attempt to tease out the new potential as well as reporting on enduring and new obstacles.


PUBLIC KEYNOTE #3, Saturday 20 June, 7:30 pm - R. Noss and C. Hoyles

Stories from the ScratchMaths experiment

We will sketch the background of our ScratchMaths project, our current struggle to design a new kind of maths curriculum based on programming. Working with 9- 11 year old students, we are learning some lessons for design, and we will share some stories from this work on the ways in which using programming as a medium for exploring mathematics can open new mathematical doors for learners – new ways to learn and teach as well as new things to learn. 

PUBLIC KEYNOTE #2, Friday 19 June, 7 pm - Y. Kafai

Connected Code: A New Agenda for K-12 Programming in Classrooms, Clubs, and Communities

We are witnessing a remarkable comeback of computer programming in schools. While computers seem to be accessible everywhere, particularly outside school, where children and youth are connecting to wider networks of other young users, their capacity to wield such devices critically, creatively, and selectively is decidedly less potent. Learning the language of computers introduces students to processes for not only thinking and solving problems but also for making more meaningful connections online. What then is the role of programming in facilitating more productive uses of technology? And what is the role of teachers in introducing programming to a wider array of youth? How will schools address challenges of diversity and equity so prevalent in computing culture? In the talk, I will examine three central shifts that lead us from computational thinking to computational participation—from code to applications, from tools to communities, and from scratch to remix—in teaching and learning programming to broaden participation in computing for all.

Celia Hoyles Bio

Professor Hoyles holds a first class honours degree in mathematics and a Masters and Doctorate in mathematics education.  She began by teaching mathematics in London schools before moving into higher education. She has directed more than 30 research and consultancy projects and published widely in articles and books. Her academic interests have been secondary students' conceptions of proof, the mathematical skills needed in modern workplaces and the design of computer environments for learning mathematics. She was the first recipient of the International Commission of Mathematics Instruction (ICMI) Hans Freudenthal medal in 2004, and the Royal Society Kavli Education Medal in 2011.  She was the UK government's chief adviser for mathematics (2004- 07), and the director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (2007-13).  She is President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), 2014-15).  She was awarded an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in 2004 and made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014.

Richard Noss Bio

Richard Noss is co-director of the London Knowledge Lab, an interdisciplinary centre of Institute of Education within University College London. He is Professor of Mathematics Education at the UCL-IOE, holding a Masters degree in pure mathematics and a PhD in mathematical education. He was co-founder and deputy scientific manager of Kaleidoscope, the European network of excellence for technology enhanced learning, and was the director of the UK's Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme funded jointly by the ESRC and EPSRC. 
 His research has focused on the design of constructionist computational environments for learning a range of ideas -- mostly mathematics-related. He has extensively researched the kinds of knowledge needed by employees in technology-rich workplaces, and appropriate ways to harness technology to foster this knowledge. Richard is is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, an Academician of the Academy of the Social Sciences and in 2011, was elected a Foreign Fellow of the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians. He is, since 2012, a Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne.

Yasmin Kafai Bio 

Yasmin Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a researcher and co-developer of online tools and communities ( and to promote computational participation, crafting, and creativity across K-16. Her recent book publications include “Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming,” “Connected Play: Tweens in a Virtual World,” “Minds in Play: Computer Game Design as a Context for Children’s Learning”, as well as edited volumes “Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of Electronic Textiles and Education”, “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming”, “The ComputerClubhouse: Constructionism and Creativity in Youth Communities”, and “Constructionism in Practice”. She coauthored the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan for the United States Department of Education, wrote the 2006 synthesis report Under the Microscope: A Decade of Gender Equity Projects in the Sciences for the American Association of University Women, and was a contributing member to the National Research Council workshop series Computational Thinking for Everyone. In 2007, she received the $25,000 Rosenfield Community Prize together with Youth Opportunities Unlimited and was recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her mentoring partnership initiatives. Kafai earned a doctorate from Harvard University while working with Seymour Papert at the MIT Media Lab. She is an elected Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and past President of the International Society for the Learning Sciences.

Workshop Presenters, Handouts & Links (Friday June 19)

Brian Aspinall, LKDSB

Brock Dubbels, McMaster University

Lisa Floyd, TVDSB

George Gadanidis, UWO

David Hann, TDSB

Vera Sarina, TDSB

Jonathan So, PDSB

Gabriella Solti, UWO


Symposium Discussion Themes (Saturday June 20 - Sunday June 21)

This is a list of themes to get us started. The themes will be finalized in our initial discussions and working groups will be formed. Working groups are encouraged to think about research questions that might be explored and research partnerships that might be developed in relation to the theme.


Hosted by the Faculty of Education, Western University.


The Symposium is sponsored by the Fields Institute and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

With support from the Faculty of Education and the Teaching Support Centre, Western University.

And with support from the Faculties of Education and Science, the Office of Vice-President: Academic & Provost, and the Office of the Associate Vice-President: Teaching and Learning, Wilfrid Laurier University.


In recent years, there have been renewed calls for young children to learn to code. Some of these calls are coming from research institutions, such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon, which have developed their own low floor, high ceiling programming languages (Scratch and Alice, respectively). In addition, there have been calls for coding skills from leading technology personalities, such as Bill Gates of Microsoft and Dick Costello of Twitter, as well as from non-profit coding advocacy organizations, such as The current coding movement is different from the one of over three decades ago, spearheaded by Papert's (1980) Logo programming environment, in three important ways. First, compared to Logo's history, there is more serious consideration given by those in education policy and decision-making positions to include coding skills in mandated curriculum documents. For example, starting in the Fall of 2014, the new UK national curriculum mandates that children at all grades will learn to code. The new curriculum "replaces the old ICT programme of study, which focused on computer literacy, with more up–to–date content teaching children how to code, create programmes and understand how a computer works" (UK Government News Release, 4 February 2014). Second, unlike Logo's coupling of coding and mathematics, recent calls appear to see coding skills more as an end in themselves. As UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer noted:

We are already making Britain the place to start and grow a tech company. This year by introducing coding into the curriculum we are also making sure Britain is the place to learn to code. [...] In the 21st century, the ability to code and program a computer is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s an essential. (UK Government News Release, 4 February 2014)

Third, coding is an integral part of the digital making movement, with the recent emergence of community “makerspaces” (where individuals and entrepreneurs share production tools and knowledge), and the subsequent popularity of “maker faires” used to showcase the resultant work, point to the importance of engaging learners in constructionist practices, including both screen-based and “tangibles” (Kafai & Burke, 2014).

A similarity with past calls for coding, is the focus on a low floor, high ceiling learning environment, where students engage both with coding and mathematics with minimal prerequisite knowledge, yet with opportunities to explore concepts and relationships well beyond the curriculum of their grade level. For example, as with Logo's early development, the coding skills listed in the new UK coding curriculum represent the minimum of what needs to be taught, but not the maximum (Berry, 2013). This parallels Papert's low floor, high ceiling idea, in that the curriculum creates a low floor for coding (the youngest children in school can do it) while allowing teachers and schools to offer a high coding ceiling, so students can develop more complex coding concepts and skills. Resnick et al (2009) suggest a second dimension of "wide walls", which can support "many different types of projects so people with many different interests and learning styles can all become engaged" (p. 63). "Wide walls" is also seen as allowing and motivating children to engage with and "perform" their learning for a wider audience, as opposed to just their classroom peers (Gadanidis, 2014; in press).

In this context, where coding is being considered seriously as a curriculum goal, and where digital making is gaining increased educational attention, the proposed Symposium will explore opportunities where coding, digital making and mathematics education may be coupled to improve teaching and learning for students across the grades.


  • Berry, M. (2013). Computing in the National Curriculum. A Guide for Primary Teachers. Bedford, UK: Computing at School. Retrieved 12 May 2014 from
  • Kafai, Y. B. & Burke, Q. (2014). Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. New York: Basic Books.
  • Resnick, M. et al (2009). "Digital fluency" should mean designing, creating, and remixing, not just browsing, chatting, and interacting. Communications of the ACM, 52(11), 60-67.
  • UK Government News Release (4 February 2014). Year of Code and £500,000 fund to inspire future tech experts launched. Retrieved 12 May 2014 from