Computational Thinking in Mathematics Education Symposium

Sponsored by the Fields Institute for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (Fields); University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Faculty of Education and the SSHRC partnership development grant on Computational Thinking in Mathematics Education (

Supported by Mathematics Knowledge Network:, NSERC, Ontario Ministry of Education, and Hosted by UOIT.

Date: October 13 – 15, 2017
Location: UOIT, Oshawa, Ontario
Organizing Committee: Immaculate Namukasa (Western), Chantal Buteau (Brock), George Gadanidis (Western), Donna Kotsopoulos (Huron University College), Janette Hughes (UOIT)


There have been numerous calls recently from academia, industry, and non-profit and government organizations for students across all levels of education to study and develop competencies in computational thinking. In addition, there has been a flurry of non-profit and commercial development of out-of-school tools for engaging children and adults with computational thinking using screen-based environments. With the parallel development of apps for mobile devices, opportunities for computational thinking experiences are becoming accessible to a wide audience. These developments have motivated educators and policy makers to seriously consider computational thinking as a curriculum focus.

The term computational thinking was popularized by Wing’s (2006) advocacy that “to reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability” (p. 33). However, what exactly computational thinking is, and how it integrates into curricula at all levels is not yet well-defined (NRC 2010, 2012; Grover & Pea, 2013; Lye & Koh, 2014).

The current insertion of computational thinking into education is more as its own, isolated curriculum objective, as an end in itself rather than integrated with, and enriching, existing subject areas. However, there is a natural connection between computational thinking and mathematics—not just in the logical structure or in the ability to model mathematical relationships (Wing, 2008), but also in that their integration provides novel, creative approaches to mathematics problem-solving, and increases the range of mathematics with which students at all levels can engage.

Proposed themes

The following themes will serve as a starting point for discussions. From our experience, they may certainly evolve to various directions.

  1. The integration of computational thinking and mathematics teaching and learning in preschool to undergraduate, and teacher education settings.
  2. Research-based understandings of the interplay between the affordances of computational thinking and mathematics.
  3. Practice-based understandings (and theorizing about these understandings) of the nature of exemplary tasks, pedagogical models, instructional materials and resources, and assessment practices.

Poster/Project Display

Participants are invited to share their work at the poster/project display session that will take place Saturday before the public keynote speech by Uri Wilensky. Poster boards and/or tables will be available. Interested participants should email inamukas[at] (cc: cbuteau[at] with subject line CT Symposium Poster/Project Display Proposals by September 15 2017 with details (up 300 words) of their contribution.

Keynote Speakers:

Lyn English (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

Title of Keynote:

Learning Innovation in STEM Education


Lyn English is a Professor of STEM Education at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Her areas of research, spanning K-8, include mathematics education, STEM education, engineering in the elementary and middle schools, mathematical modeling, problem solving and reasoning, statistics education, and early mathematics learning. Lyn is a Fellow of The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and is founding editor (1997) of the international journal, Mathematical Thinking and Learning (Taylor & Francis).



Uri Wilensky (Northwestern University, USA)

Title of Keynote: TBD


Uri Wilensky is a professor of Learning Sciences, Computer Science and Complex Systems at Northwestern University. He is also a faculty member in Cognitive Science and Philosophy, the program in Technology and Social Behavior, the CIERA center and the Segal Design Center research council. He is the founder and current director of the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling and a co-founder of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO). He is the author of the NetLogo agent-based modeling software which his lab actively maintains and improves. It is the most widely used agent-based modeling software, and has hundreds of thousands of users worldwide using it for both research and education. In 2016, Wilensky received the ISDDE prize for excellence in design for his work on NetLogo.


Program Schedule

Friday 13 October 2017 UOIT/Fields/SSHRC Maker Day for Teachers

  • 9:00am Registration in the Faculty of Education building
  • 4:00pm End

Friday 13 October 2017

  • 6 pm – Registration in the Faculty of Education building
  • 7 pm – Keynote Speaker Lyn English (Australia) + Q&A – Open to public
  • 9 pm – Reception

Saturday 14 October 2017

  • 8:30 Registration in the Faculty of Education building & coffee
  • 9-10 am – Working Group – whole group discussion
  • 10 am – 12 noon – Working Group – small group discussions
  • 12 noon – Lunch
  • 1:00-3 pm – Working Group – small group discussions
  • 3-3:30 pm – Poster/Project Displays & coffee
  • 3:30 pm – 5:00pm – Keynote Speaker Uri Wilensky (USA) + Q&A– Open to public

Sunday 15 October 2017

  • 9-10 am – Working Group – small group reports and whole group discussion
  • 10-10:15am Coffee Break
  • 10:15-12 am – Working Group – small group discussions
  • 12 noon – Lunch
  • 1-2:45 pm – Working Group – small group reports and next steps discussion


Registration can be done here. The conference fees ($ 120) include reception on Friday night, lunch and coffee breaks on Saturday and Sunday. You may also wish to register to the Maker Day For Teachers on Friday for an additional fee of ($ 60).

How to get there

The conference will take place at UOIT in the Faculty of Education building located at 11 Simcoe St. N. Oshawa, ON. Please note this building is located downtown and not on the main UOIT Campus.


By Car

From Downtown Toronto,

• Take Highway 401 East to Simcoe Street North;
• North on Simcoe Street past King Street; and
• You’ll see UOIT on the east side of Simcoe Street just north of King Street.
From Downtown Toronto, this route takes approximately 50 minutes.

From Hamilton,

• Take Highway 403 East;
• Continue onto the QEW to exit 139 for ON-427 toward Pearson;
• Continue on Highway 427 North to merge onto Highway 401 East;
• Continue on Highway 401 East to Simcoe Street North;
• North on Simcoe Street past King Street; and
• You’ll see UOIT on the east side of Simcoe Street just north of King Street.
From Hamilton, this route takes approximately 1.5 hours.

From Ottawa,

• Take Highway 417 West to exit 145 for Ontario 7 W toward Carleton Place/Toronto;
• Continue on Trans Canada Highway;
• Turn left onto ON-37 South;
• Turn left to merge onto Highway 401 West toward Toronto;
• Take the exit toward ON-16/Simcoe Street;
• Turn left onto First Ave;
• Turn right onto Simcoe Street South; and
• You’ll see UOIT on the east side of Simcoe Street just north of King Street.
From Ottawa, this takes approximately 4 hours.


Parking is available nearby in the lots shown below. Note that lot P1 is closest to the Faculty of Education building. Free parking is available during evenings and weekends!

By Train/Bus

Train service to Oshawa arrives at the Oshawa Station, 915 Bloor Street West. This is a 10-minute drive from UOIT. See or for more details.
Bus service arrives at the Oshawa Bus Terminal, 47 Bond Street West. This is a 3-minute walk from UOIT. See for more details.
There is also a Go Transit Bus to and from locations such as Brampton, Scarborough, North York and Markham. See for more details.

By Plane

The closest airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport, which is approximately one hour from UOIT by car.
If you are driving to the campus from the airport:
• Take Highway 401 East to Simcoe Street North;
• North on Simcoe Street past King Street; and
• You’ll see UOIT on the east side of Simcoe Street just north of King Street.

You can take a taxi directly from the airport to the university. A taxi from the airport to UOIT is approximately $85. Please visit the Toronto Pearson Ground Transportation website for ground transportation options between the airport and the university.


Nearby Hotels

There are several hotels available nearby that are a walking distance or a short drive from campus. Here are some options:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 67 Simcoe Street North
$115 +txt per night (king-size bed or 2 double-bed rooms, including breakfast, free high-speed wireless Internet, and access to the pool and fitness center.) An additional $8 for parking if needed. Rooms have been blocked until August 29, 2017. Cancellation due to emergency situations are allowed up to 72hr prior to arrival. Mention ‘Computational Thinking Symposium’ when booking.
Walking time: 2 minutes

Comfort Inn, 605 Bloor Street West
From $189+txt per night, including breakfast and parking. Rooms have been blocked until August 12, 2017. Mention ‘Computational Thinking Symposium’ when booking.
Driving time: 7 minutes

Travelodge Oshawa Whitby, 940 Champlain Ave
From $76 per night.
Driving time: 8 minutes


All lunches and coffee breaks will be taken with the group. They are included in the registration fee. As for dinners, you will have the opportunity to explore the cuisines offered in Oshawa. Breakfast can be included with hotel accommodation. Note that light refreshments will be provided at 8:30am at the conference.

For more information

Contact one of the organizers:

  • Immaculate Namukasa (,
  • Chantal Buteau ( or
  • Janette Hugues (

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