Maths Resource of the Week 23



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Plane Races

  • A fun way to learn about probability and the dangers of gambling!
  • What is it? - There are many really good interactive dice simulators out there which are fantastic for illustrating key probability concepts such as sample space diagrams and experimental variation. What is great about this particular one, however, is that you can still tackle both of those concepts in a clear and dynamic way, but as an added bonus you also get to introduce your students to the perilous world of gambling. The Excel file is set up as a race (either using one dice or two) and after each roll that particular score moves one place closer to the finishing line. But after each roll you have the opportunity to update the bookies odds of all numbers winning. This gives a nice way of talking about things like expected value and fairness, it puts probability in a real world context, and perhaps more importantly, shows your students how the bookies always win!
  • How could it be used? - A successful lesson I had with this resource involved a starter discussing exactly how odds such as “3 to 1” work, and then giving all students £100 (of imaginary money – were are in tough economic times after all) to start with. Before a dice was rolled they were allowed to bet any amount on any number – more than one if they chose – and they had to write down how much they would win if their number came through using the current odds. Then, after a couple of rolls of the dice I updated the odds, and students were allowed to bet again using these latest offerings. This continued until the end of the race whereby we had a look how much money everyone had left and how much I, the nasty bookie, had pocketed. Thankfully, I had mad enough to pay for me (equally imaginary) holiday. This gives a nice look at how the popular “in-play” betting works, and how the odds are never in your favour!
  • How have you used this resource? - Please share your ideas below.
  • Uploaded by GrahamIwi

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TES secondary maths teaching resources