Experiments in Probability

Robert Foote Disney Magnet School
4140 N. Marine Drive
Chicago Illinois 60613
(312) 534-5840


This lesson can be used for seventh or eighth grade.
The students will be able to:
-compute probabilities as fractions and percents.
-perform simple experiments to determine outcomes.
-record results on a data table.
-work in cooperative groups.

State Goals:

Students will be able to:
-perform the computations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
using whole numbers, integers, fractions and decimals.
-understand and use methods of data collection and analysis, including tables,
charts, and comparisons.
-have a working knowledge of the principles of scientific research and their
application in simple research projects.

Materials Needed:

Experiment 1: 2 dice and a paper cup.
Experiment 2: 3 white dice, 2 red dice and a paper cup.
Experiment 3: 3 pennies(or other coins) and a paper cup.
Experiment 4: Pencil and paper clip,handout with spinner diagram.
Handouts with data tables for each experiment.
Warmup Activity: 60 identical marbles labeled 1 through 60 and a bag.


As a warmup activity for this lesson, have every group pick 6 different numbers
between 1 and 60 and write them down on an index card. During the course of
the lessons, 6 marbles will be picked out of a bag of 60 labeled marbles. The
group whose numbers on the card most closely matches the drawn marbles will
win a prize. If there is a tie for this Lotto simulation, the prize will be
shared by both groups.
Each group of four will be given the role of experimenter, observer, calculator
or recorder. Since there are four experiments, each group will change roles
when changing experiments. By the end of the four experiments, all members of
the group will have played each role once.
Each of the experiments,Spin a Spinner,Choose Colored Cubes,Tossing Three
Coins,and Rolling Two Dice with be set up at stations with the materials
needed. Groups will rotate after 10 minutes and then go on to the next
experiment. The procedure for each experiment will be explained prior to
conducting the experiments. All data for each experiment will be recorded
by each group. The procedure for each experiment is as follows:
Spin A Spinner- Using worksheet provided with a spinner, students will use
a pencil and a paper clip to spin the spinner 25 times and record in their
data where it lands.(A,B,C,D).Starting the paper clip at the same place
each time will lead to invalid data. Start each spin from where the previous
spin landed.
Choose Colored Cubes- Students place 3 white and 2 red cubes in a cup. Shake
the cubes and draw one cube from the cup. Replace it and repeat the procedure.
Record the result on the data table. Repeat the procedure 25 times.
Tossing Three Coins- Students place 3 pennies in a cup. Shake the pennies
on to a table or counter. Record the number of heads and tails showing on the
data table. Replace the pennies and repeat the procedure. Do the experiment
25 times.
Rolling Two Dice- Students place dice in a cup and shake them on the counter
or tabletop. Record the sum of the two dice on the data table. Repeat the
procedure a total of 25 times.

Performance Assessment:

Each of the data tables will be a performance assessment. Each of the tables
should show that the experiment has been performed and the percent column on the
chart should be correctly computed. All experiments should show a total of 25
outcomes and should be closed to theoretical probability for each of the events.


Lovell, Robert. Probability Activities for Problem Solving and Skills and Skills Reinforcement. Key Curriculum Press,1993.

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