### Abstract:

The object of this experiment was to ascertain whether elementary algebra could be introduced to standard six pupils in such a way that it would facilitate pupils' command of the functionality and meaning of algebraic manipulation. The- experiment teaching program was planned within the context of the existing standard six syllabus and presented to a standard six class consisting of 29 pupils. To enable evaluation of the success of the experimental teaching strategy, the pupils were asked to answer two test papers at the end of the particular year, followed by two similar test papers approximately nine weeks later. The previous year the same tests were submitted to a control group consisting of 27 standard six pupils. The control group had -received introductory instruction, in elementary algebra in the traditional way. Traditionally the different aspects of elementary algebra were taught to a large extent in isolation of each other. With this type of approach pupils were prevented from experiencing the functionality of algebraic manipulation from the onset. The experimental teaching strategy was an endeavour to introduce a more integrated approach to initiation of manipulative algebra. Manipulative algebra was taught within the context of the evaluation of algebraic expressions and the solving of equations. The program consisted of the following phases: Phase 1 is an introduction to algebraic expressions by means of flow diagrams and computing instructions. Phase 2 is an evaluation of algebraic expressions. The following conclusions could be drawn from the test results: Most pupils in both groups showed a reasonable command of the meaning of an algebraic expression; Very few pupils in the control group used algebraic manipulation as a means to simplifying the evaluation of an algebraic expression of- the solution of an equation; The experimental group did considerably better than the control group in all aspects of command, especially in the command of the functionality and meaning of algebraic manipulation; Intellectually stronger pupils derived more benefit from the experimental teaching program than weaker pupils; Almost all pupils in the experimental group, who utilised algebraic manipulation as a time saving device in the first two tests, used the same approach in the follow-up tests; Although the results of the investigation seem heartening, it cannot be concluded unequivocally that the results indicate real command of the functionality and meaning of algebraic manipulation rather than a mere display of conditioned behaviour. Phase 3 is becoming aware of equivalence. Phase 4 is the meaning of equivalence. Phase 5: Recognising and designing e(equivalent algebraic expressions and becoming aware of the functionality of equivalent expressions. Phase is developing self-reliance in recognising possibilities for saving work through algebraic manipulation. The questions in the test papers written by the control group, Group B, and theexperimental group, Group A, were designed to evaluate command of the following aspects:Meaning of an algebraic expression: MoE; Manipulative skill: MS; Meaning of algebraic manipulation: MoM; Functionality and meaning of algebraic manipulation: FMoM. The results of the tests are given.