Virtown – learning maths by building digital towns

Presented by: Conor Griffin

What are the intentions of this presentation?
This presentation is an opportunity for the audience to learn about Virtown; a unique project for teaching maths developed in an Irish primary school classroom. The presentation includes a workshop style section where the audience will get to try Virtown for themselves.

What is Virtown?
Firstly, children work in teams to plan on paper the design for a house, using all their maths concepts – area, perimeter, multiplication, division etc. Secondly, those 2D plans are then transformed into 3D models of houses. Thirdly, all the houses built by the class are placed together in a 3D virtual environment to form a town; the 3D virtual town (Vir-town) is then made accessible so the children can view on an internet browser (see for last year’s pilot). Think of Minecraft but children build on paper instead of using laptops.

Last year’s pilot –
Virtown was last year run as a 5-week project in Mr. O’Brien’s 5th class in the Convent of Mercy, Newport, Tipperary. The project was extremely well received by the students, parents and staff alike and we aim to expand the project in the coming years to run more pilots and of longer duration. The presentation will present findings from last year’s pilot and discuss challenges moving forward for the project.

Presenter Biography:

Conor Griffin is a primary school teacher in the Convent of Mercy, Newport, Tipperary. He has been teaching there for the last 10 years, taught 5th class for a number of years and is currently part of the SET team. 

Conor developed Virtown as an alternative way to teach maths in his class. he founded a company in 2019 aimed at scaling out Virtown, which has been in the development and pilot stage since. The company previously won funding from Social Entrepreneuers’ Ireland (SEI) and the European Union. Most recently they won an NDRC start-up sprint in the Immersive Software Education Lab in the University of Limerick which gives them the chance to develop Virtown out further.

Conor is currently completing a part-time MSc in Psychology.