Square One

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For other uses, see Square One (disambiguation).
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Square One, also known as Square One Television, was a television show produced by the Children's Television Workshop to teach mathematics and abstract mathematical concepts to young viewers. Originated and broadcast on PBS in the United States from January 1987 to April 1994, the show was intended to counter the so-called "math crisis" among American schoolchildren. It was rated TV-Y7. The show was revived for 1995-1996 as Square One TV Math Talk. Square One was also shown on the U.S. cable television channel Noggin beginning in 1999, but was removed from its lineup along with other Children's Television Workshop shows in May 2003.

Comprising the show was a compilation of short sketches that introduced and applied concepts in mathematics such as counting, combinatorics, vulgar fractions, estimation, probability, and geometry. The sketches featured regular characters and were mainly parodies of pop culture icons or popular television shows:

  • Music videos, similar to ones seen on MTV, used a particular subject in mathematics and taught the subject through song.
  • Mathman (a parody of Pac-Man), helped viewers learn to recognize common mistakes while solving math problems, such as forgetting to carry a digit, or making errors with negative numbers.
  • Mathnet (a parody of Dragnet). The segment was distinguished by its intelligent scripts and big-name guest stars. Although a Mathnet TV series never resulted, a few specials aired in prime time on PBS.
  • Late Afternoon with David Numberman (a parody of Late Night with David Letterman)
  • Mathcourt (a parody of The People's Court), applied Mathematics to solve cases
  • General Mathpital (a parody of General Hospital)
  • Dirk Niblick of the Math Brigade (an original idea). It was distinguished from most of the other sketches in that it was animated.
  • But Who's Counting? (a parody of a game show)

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