Graspable Math

Math is beautiful and tremendously powerful in the hands of experts. On the other hand, for many students, math is frustrating and HARD....All those rules to memorize. All those steps to write and keep track of. In a time of powerful digital tools and online learning, most feel the easiest way to write and solve an equation is still by hand, on paper. We love paper, but shouldn't computers and touchscreens provide intuitive and fluid interfaces for math instead of getting in the way?

To make algebraic work experiential, a group of us - math educators, psychologists, mathematicians, and computer scientists - have developed Graspable Math (GM), algebra notation reconstructed for the digital space. GM is a dynamic algebra notation tool that allows users to manipulate algebraic expressions and observe an immediate response to their mouse actions (e.g., dragging and dropping) or touchpad gestures. Thanks to GM, making algebraic transformations no longer needs to be an arbitrary, rule-driven process, but instead the demonstration of one’s structural intuition. In GM, algebraic expressions turn into interactive objects and support students in flexible reasoning, exploring structure, and inquiring into how math works. To learn more about GM, please visit the official Graspable Math's website.

Graspable Math is an interactive dynamic software that features many capabilities aimed towards helping students learn Algebra. Under a grant provided by the US Department of Education the goal of our work is to have a software that is ready to assist students in their learning experience with math.

Below is a video of our amazing alumni Jackson Perry ('19, BS Math, Psychology, and Teacher Prep) describing Graspable Math and his experience working as an RA on our research!

Graspable Math Activities

Graspable Math Activities: Increasing Algebra Proficiency with Dynamic Notation Technology. Funded by IES ED/SBIR. Awards # 91990019C0034 and 91990018C0032 (2018-2021)

Using the GM as a foundation, we are developing Graspable Math Activities (GMA) - a student activity app with novel kinds of algebra practice and assessment tasks. With the goal of supporting both students and teachers in the journey of learning and teaching algebra, the activities in GMA promotes procedural fluency while allowing students to focus on strategy and the connection between concepts and procedures. Go to

GMA lets you find and share activities with a teacher community, let’s you assign them to students,

and see their live step-by step work!

Because the GMA app is intended to supplement, not replace classroom teaching, the primary goal of this website is to help teachers to integrate the app into their classroom practice. The 5 targets of the Graspable Math Activities Website are to:

    1. familiarize teachers with GM gestures and activity task types,

    2. provide resources to teachers to help them create their own GMA activities for their students,

    3. facilitate the implementation and integration of GM algebra activities into their classroom discourse,

    4. relate the intended learning outcomes of the algebra activities,

    5. reflect on how to use the teacher dashboard.

More information about the project can be found at our Graspable Math Activities (GMA) project webpage.

From Here to There!

The Efficacy of From Here to There: A Dynamic Technology for Improving Algebraic Understanding. Funded by IES-CASL Award # R305A180401 (2018-2022)

Learning the Visual Structure of Algebra Through Dynamic Interactions with Notation. Funded by IES-CASL Award #R305A110060 (2011-2015)

We have also developed From Here to There, a dynamic algebra game funded by the Institute of Education Sciences in an earlier grant. We are currently conducting a large efficacy study funded by IES with more than 4,000 students in the 2020-21 school year. The project aims to test the efficacy of From Here to There, a dynamic technology designed to promote algebraic thinking, in comparison to two other educational technologies (problem sets with hints and feedback in ASSISTments and DragonBox) and a control. More information about this project can be found at the FH2T project website.

If you would like to play From Here to There!, click here! You can make an account.