Madison Project Materials


Discovery in Mathematics and Exploration in Mathematics were developed as part of the Madison Project’s focus on teacher training. They included step by step directions on how to conduct lessons and discussions that would promote mathematical understanding. The books refer to specific films as examples.






Madison Project Film


The 16mm films produced for the Madison Project were designed for teacher training and are integral to the in-service training programs. It is interesting to note that teachers are warned that some of the films are controversial and they should not judge all of them based on viewing only one or two.


Appendix B of the 1967 report to the National Science Foundation listed 117 films (some were excerpts of others films). The list in the report was organized according to the purpose of the lesson as follows:


  1. Lessons emphasizing small group work and individualized instruction, grades K-8.
  2. Lessons intended to improve the students’ understanding of topics in traditional arithmetic, grades K-8.
  3. Lessons concerned with creating a “bridge” or “foundation” for unifying arithmetic, algebra, and geometry in grades K-8.
  4. Lessons concerned with creating a “bridge” or “foundation” for relating mathematics to science in grades K-8.
  5. Lessons intended to give more capable students a head start on high school and college mathematics.
  6. Lessons from the Ninth-Grade Course.


A variation of the film list organized by grade level is also available.


Though the NSF grant was the primary source of funding for the films, many other organizations contributed. The following screen indicates some of the Saint Louis community supporters.

list of sponsors




The Madison Project created materials know as Math in the Shoebox. They were created to provide students with physical models to help them build mathematical understanding. Examples of materials in the shoeboxes are fraction rods, nail boards, Tower of Hanoi puzzle and the Peg Game.


Manipulatives were not part of the original Madison Project materials. About the progression of the project, Katharine Kharas said “the most significant way was that we realized that kids needed manipulative materials in order to learn the math and describe the math. … Then we just realized that kids, if they could see and change it and manipulate it, then they tended to learn a lot more, and be able to get to more abstract mathematics.” 1


discs used by Madison Project


blocks used by Madison Project


The blue box was the early version. They were later repackaged by Math Media using black and gold boxes (Pictures courtesy of Don Cohen).




1Steven Schulman, What Was The Madison Project? (Doctoral dissertation) (ProQuest LLC, 2009, UMI No. 3373682), 334.