Education Technology

Heads Up!

Published on 06/09/2008

Activity Overview

In this activity, students study some important concepts of probability. They use coin tossing experiments to determine the probability of a tossed coin coming up heads. They examine both short and long term experimental probabilities and their relationship to the theoretical probability.

Before the Activity

  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 41 - 49 from the attached PDF file for your class
  • During the Activity

    Distribute the pages to the class.

    Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Use the calculator to simulate tossing of a coin
  • Note that each of the numbers generated is either 1 or 0
  • Predict the result of a coin toss
  • Simulate tossing a coin ten times
  • Record the results and compare with the prediction
  • Enter the data as a list
  • Compute the ratio of the number of heads to the total number of tosses, and save the fraction (representing the experimental probability) in a list
  • Set up a line plot and graph the results
  • Add a horizontal line that represents the decimal fraction 0.5 (theoretical probability)
  • Examine the data around this line and determine how close the fractions are to 1/2
  • Understand that it is possible that the final fraction is not 0.5
  • Repeat the simulation for more sets of ten coin tosses
  • Realize that as larger number of trials are conducted, the experimental probability comes closer to the theoretical probability
  • After the Activity

    Students complete data sheet and answer questions.

    Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary