5th January 2007 at 00:00
Ages 11 to 14

Teaching probability can be a nightmare. So much of the vocabulary is used in everyday life that it can be difficult for pupils to make the connection between theoretical and practical probabilities.

I didn't want a difficult Year 10 set throwing dice around all lesson, so I devised a way to get the spreadsheet program Excel to show how, on a fair die, the relative frequency of a six being thrown is 1 in 6.

The spreadsheet (which can be downloaded from "rolls a die" 1,000 times, then calculates the relative frequency of the sixes. A graph shows the tendency towards 0.166 recurring. The number of rolls or the die face number can be altered if you want to convince them a six is just as likely to come up as any other number. Press F9 to get a new selection of random rolls

Rob Percival teaches at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Hertfordshire

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