Basics of Dr. Fran's MathStrongLab

First of all, what is the Definition of Dr. Fran's MathStrongLab?

A MathStrongLab is a self-paced hands-on mathematics laboratory in which students use mathematics manipulatives (e.g., Cuisenaire Rods, Pattern Blocks, Pegboards, etc.) in a guided discovery mode with the coaching of knowledgeable mentors well-trained in the materials and methodology of such a lab. The plan is to have students learn mathematics through understanding rather than attempting to do mathematics by obedience. The two-pronged approach to mathematics education in the MathStrongLab is to allow students to discover whatever is reasonably discoverable about the topics in arithmetic, geometry, combinatorics, and so forth, but to teach students by direct instruction (telling them) the cultural aspects of mathematics which are primarily terminology and notation (e.g., This is how you write the numeral for five. The numbers that we add are called “addends.” A prime number is a natural number that has exactly two divisors).


There are two Fundamental Principles of a MathStrongLab.

1.) Allow students to discover whatever is reasonably discoverable.

2.) Teach by direct instruction (telling) the cultural aspects of mathematics which include terminology and notation.

"Proposal for a MathStrongLab" by Fran Endicott Armstrong, PhD

Proposal for a MathStrongLab 2008-07-07.pdf

Mathematics Manipulatives and Ancillaries for a MathStrongLab in a school, community center, or a home-schooling home"

Nifty Nine 2020-04-06.pdf