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Secondary Magazine - Issue 12: An idea for the classroom

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 11 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 16 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Secondary Magazine

Welcome to Issue 12 of the NCETM Secondary Magazine. Discover our fortnightly features - some regulars and some new. Why not add your comments to the portal or recommend some articles? This issue, An idea for the classroom features Furbles.
An Idea for the Classroom - Furbles
Have you met the Furbles yet? Furbles (2003) is a free interactive probability and statistics application. It allows you to create your own population, or to generate random populations of Furbles, with various attributes (colour, shape, number of eyes). Furbles are able to organise themselves into bar and pie charts (see the example of the pie chart above), and a 'Furble Lottery' function in which one Furble is randomly selected.


The website states that “the idea of Furbles was to bring the graphs and the data that they represented together in a very fundamental way”. You could do that by:

introducing pupils to the Furbles programme and watching a random selection of Furbles ‘walk’ into a bar chart or pie chart based on a particular attribute e.g. colour

- asking the pupils to sketch the bar chart or pie chart that might be produced by selecting a different attribute e.g. shape
- showing a blank pie chart or bar chart and asking pupils to suggest a population of Furbles which could have generated this graph –
How many Furbles would there be?
How many different attributes would there be?
What proportion of each attribute would there be? Etc. etc.
and then testing it out
- the Furble lottery function would enable you to ask different questions about probability such as:
What is the probability of selecting a yellow Furble?
What is the probability of selecting a yellow Furble with two eyes?
What is the probability of selecting a triangular, yellow Furble with two eyes etc.?


another way of using this might be to tell the pupils that the probability of selecting a triangular, yellow Furble with two eyes is 1/3 say and the pupils have to tell you what the population could look like
- it would also be a good way to test out some experimental versus theoretical probability ideas. Using the Furble lottery function 20, 50, 100 times, it would be possible to predict how many times each particular Furble would be picked and then record the actual results.
There is something quite endearing about the way these creatures ‘watch’ you – we hope your pupils enjoy them.

 Click here to find out more about Furbles

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Secondary Focus - Portal Tour  
Visit the Secondary Magazine Archive

Browse... Issue 12
Homepage, The Interview, Around the regions, 5 things to do, The Diary, Focus on

Browse... PD Activities
Self-evaluation, Why do we teach mathematics?, Learning mathematics in my school, Pathways and options at KS3 to KS5, Mathematical Vocabulary, Revision, Group Work, C/D Borderline, Planning teaching and learning, Technology for learning

Focus on multiplication


The Diary - real issues in the life of a fictional Subject Leader


Pascal - What's in a name?


5 things to do


The Interview - Ian, the airline pliot


Around the regions - news, views and updates from the NCETM Regional Coordinators


Explore the Secondary Forum

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