Education Technology

NUMB3RS - Season 2 - "Soft Target" - Percolation Theory

Published on 02/07/2006

Activity Overview

In "Soft Target," Charlie talks about how Percolation Theory can be used to model the random movements of a disoriented criminal trying to escape FBI agents during a terrorist attack drill. He uses an analogy to a porous material in which liquid is poured on top. The question is: Will the liquid be able to make its way from hole to hole and reach the bottom?
In Part I of this activity, students will use the random number generator on their calculators to simulate the movements of a disoriented criminal, following a random path to an escape route, much like water making its way through a porous object.
In Parts II and III of this activity, students will study the Galton Box, a mathematical device that has a relationship to Percolation Theory and Pascal’s triangle.

Before the Activity

Download the attached PDF and look over the Teacher Page.
Download the attached TI-Navigator files for use during the lesson.

During the Activity

Discuss the materials from the Student Page with your class.

After the Activity

Encourage students to explore web sites and questions from the Extensions page.