Each surface was specifically designed to be mathematically interesting as well as visually appealing. Non-symmetric surfaces were chosen so that students discoveries of the underlying geometry could apply to both symmetric and non-symmetric functions. Each surface measures 10 inches by 10 inches and up to six inches in height; The relatively large size provides enough work space for groups of three or four students to work together to explore calculus ideas on the surface.
The original wood surfaces were created in 2010 using a CNC machine. Including the design and finishing time, each surface required a minimum of 40 hours of labor plus a few hours of maintenance each semester. Developed with an undergraduate student, the complete set of surfaces (and a few extra) took 12 months to finish.
During the fall of 2011 and spring of 2012, three engineering students from the Composite Engineering department at Winona State University helped explore the feasibility of creating the surfaces from plastic.
In 2013, the National Science Foundation funded the project under the Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (TUES) program. The project is currently funding the development of learning materials and production of surfaces to be used in 30 institutions across the U.S.