In this blog series, we are profiling the people behind Callysto. These hard-working individuals are building the tools that are bringing computational thinking to Canadian classrooms!
Today, we are profiling India Heisz, who is leading the team of developers building the Callysto teaching modules.
Lead Developer, Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences (PIMS)
What work are you doing on Callysto?
I oversee a team of around 40 developers who are building the Callysto modules [including an interactive dice-tossing display, and a machine learning-based text analysis of the works of Shakespeare]. These developers come to me if they’re having issues or are looking for ideas on how to move a module forward. I like the team we have here — we’ve hired some great developers. I also help maintain the Hub that we use to make all the Callysto modules available to the public.
What do you like about the technology behind Callysto?
I like how you can incorporate different media and languages into one platform. You can process in Python and render it coherently, beautifully, all in one place.
What do you hope the Callysto project will achieve?
While I was in school, I worked as a math and physics tutor, helping both adults and younger students. I noticed that many of them struggled to relate their class subjects to what they knew in real life, and many had different learning styles. Interactive learning was a great way to get them engaged and develop a better understanding of the subject.
My biggest hope for Callysto is that it brings this interactivity into the classroom, and supports students who have different learning styles. I’m also hoping teachers can use this tool to bring their class content up to speed with the real-world skills their students will need to have.
Growing up, what was your favourite subject?
Math! I like how I could use math to create a whole new world to work within. There was a consistent structure to it that appealed to me.
How would you have used Callysto when you were in school?
I found the classes with interaction more engaging than the classes without. The labs where we built robots or boats to demonstrate Physics principles were more engaging than just reading math or history from a textbook. I would have used Callysto in those math and history classes so I could interact with the material and find the content that inspired me to engage.
What else do you do when you’re not working on Callysto?
I work at the UBC Visual Cognition Lab as their Tech Manager. We do human-computer interface studies, learning how human vision works in order to create better visual interfaces. Last year, we collaborated with CBC and world class magicians to film the Science of Magic.
And what did you learn from working with magicians?
People are really bad at focusing on more than one thing. And being a magician is hard work!