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Teaching mathematics
Teaching mathematics

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5.1 Experimental probability

Have a go at this probability game and then reflect on what it demonstrates.

Activity 17 Horse race

Timing: Allow 10 minutes

Several people can play this game (or a whole class can play). Every person chooses a number to represent their horse. They each take it in turns to roll two dice and sum their numbers and when their number comes up they shade one box for their horse.

So if someone gets a 2 and a 3, their total is 5 and they shade one square on the 5 line. The race is won by the first horse to get to the finishing line (that is when all five boxes on their line are shaded).

When the game is finished you should have a horizontal bar chart.

Described image
Figure 33 Horse race

If you do not have any dice, there are simulators available online, for instance: dice/ ?num=2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] software/ SW/ SnailRace/

Activity 18 Reflecting

Timing: Allow 5 minutes

Some questions to get you thinking about the activity.

  • How did your horse do?
  • Did anything surprise you about the results you recorded?
  • Was the winning horse one you might have expected to win?
  • Did you notice anything about horse number 1?

You will calculate the theoretical probabilities of each horse moving forward in the race later, in Section 5.3.