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Envisioning Canada in VR

By Kassandra Lenters
2 hours
Key Coding Concepts
  • Debugging
  • Parallel Execution
  • Sequences

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated 3D environment that simulates a real experience. The level of interactivity can vary from passively observing to device-assisted interactions


Augmented Reality (AR) is a computer-generated experience where a virtual world is superimposed on the user’s view of the real world.


WebVR is a JavaScript API that makes it possible to experience VR in our browser. We can use WebVR to develop, experience, and share VR projects.


A-Frame is an open source framework for developing WebVR, based in HTML. Because it is cross-platform, we can experience A-Frame projects using anything from an Oculus Rift, to the browser on our desktop computer.


HTML stand for HyperText Markup Language. It is the language of the web, and is used to build the content of a website, including text, images, and hyperlinks.

Level Grades 9-12
Subjects Art, Mathematics, Other
Provinces / Territories Across Canada


Students learn about Anishinabe intermedia artist Scott Benesiinaabandan and his 2167 VR experience, then build their own WebVR project using A-Frame.

Recommended: Introduce HTML & CSS before running this lesson. Try the “Innovation Website,” “Tourism Website,” or “Superhero Profiles” lessons.

Watch the “Content 101: Glitch” video: http://bit.ly/content101-videos

Have students create a Github account at: github.com → We won’t be accessing Github directly, but we’ll use this account to save our websites

Check out this example learner project: http://troubled-bean.glitch.me

Print the Solution sheet ahead of time: bit.ly/aframe-solution

You will need computers and access to the internet for this lesson

Created in partnership with ImagineNATIVE.


Artist profile from ImagineNATIVE:

Scott Benesiinaabandan is an Anishinabe intermedia artist that works primarily in photography, video, audio and printmaking. He has completed international residencies at Parramatta Artist Studios in Australia, Context Gallery in Derry, North of Ireland, and University Lethbridge/Royal Institute of Technology iAIR residency, along with international collaborative projects in both the United Kingdom and Ireland. Scott is currently based in Montreal.

About 2167

What does the future of Canada look like? For the 2167 project, five indigenous artists were asked to share their vision of Canada 150 years into the future using immersive media. Scott Benesiinaabandan responded with “Blueberry Pie under the Martian Sky” - a virtual reality experience.

Description from ImagineNATIVE website: “Bringing to life a prophetic Anishinabe legend about a young boy who travels through a wormhole back to his people’s place of origin, Blueberry Pie Under the Martian Sky also addresses concerns about the revitalization, growth and evolution of the Anishinabe language.”

Watch video recording of of Scott’s VR experience:

Blueberry Pie Under the Martian Sky (2167) from imagineNATIVE Programming on Vimeo.

(Note: this is a video capture of the project, not the actual VR experience)


Write common symbols, themes, and descriptive words on a whiteboard.

Possible questions:

  • What is your initial reaction to this virtual artwork?
  • If you could describe the experience in one word, what would it be?
  • Which symbols or themes were apparent in this work?
  • What connections can you make between the artist’s choice of media and the theme of the work?

We’re going to create our own virtual artwork in A-Frame based off of one of the themes or symbols discussed.

*Decide as a class on one theme, or have each learner choose their own theme, as inspired by the example VR project.


  • Go to https://glitch.com/~aframe
  • Select "View Source” to open the project
  • Click "Show Live" to preview the project
  • Navigate within the scene by using WASD or arrow keys. Click + drag to turn.
  • Go back to the project tab and open “index.html”
  • Try out a few of the following challenges:
    1. Change the colour of the sphere
    2. Change the position of the cylinder
    3. Change the rotation of the box
  • Remind learners to continue to test by previewing the project each time they change the code
  • Have volunteers share their solutions with the class
  • Q: What did we learn about the position attribute?
    1. Measured in meters
    2. X = left-right
    3. Y = up-down
    4. Z = forward-back


Have learners open up the starter project: glitch.com/~vr-starter-project

Use the Solution Sheet to guide learners through the following steps:

  • Changing the background image
  • Adding more 3D shapes
  • Adding textures
  • If time: Adding animation
  • Saving and sharing projects

*For any A-Frame related questions check out this documentation: https://aframe.io/docs

*Contingency (offline option): Install a text editor (like https://atom.io) and download project files (http://bit.ly/aframe-offline-files)

Have learners write an Artist’s Statement on paper or as a in their code. For example: “This artwork is titled [Title]. It is a WebVR experience built in A-Frame using HTML. I chose to [design decision] because [reasoning behind design decision].”

Co-create success criteria after looking at the tool and walking through the Code Along. Have learners conduct peer-evaluations and provide constructive feedback for revision before submitting their final artwork.

If you have access to Google Cardboard, have learners experience each other’s final projects in VR for the full, immersive experience.

Explore Scott’s portfolio website and have a mini ‘scavenger hunt’ for common themes, symbols, etc between his various artworks: http://www.benesiinaabandan.com/

Hear more from the artist himself! Watch this video of Scott sharing about his VR project after students have a chance to try to interpret the artwork on their own: https://vimeo.com/247365954

Math connection: Using the students’ projects or the code-along A-Frame project, calculate the surface area and volume of the 3D entities, using pixels as a unit of measurement. Compare the surface area and volume of existing prisms, cylinders, cones, and/or spheres.

3D transformations, cartesian coordinate system, graphing, measurement & geometry, three-dimensional shapes, elements and principles of design, critical analysis, symbolism, intermedia art

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