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Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts 54 - Car Racing

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 29 May 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 17 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts
A collection of memorable mathematics lessons that conference and colloquia delegates had observed or taught which they felt were successful.  Each account refers to one or more of the values and principles in the report.

Lesson Account 54 - Car Racing

Written by R Tanner
Organisation Unknown
Age/Ability Range Special needs Y9

(a) What was the mathematical task(s)?
Car racing game to demonstrate probability of getting different totals on 2 dice.
Cars labelled 1-12 on board.  Roll 2 dice.  Car with the total moves forwards.  Teacher chooses 6 and allows pupils to bet on others. 

(b) What learning culture was created?  How was this achieved?
Game and competition generated desire to understand probability.  Game is played and teacher discusses what they have learned.  Game is then played again.  Offer comments while class discuss amongst themselves.  The need to sort out thinking leads to generation of a sample space.  Which number would you like to choose next time and why? 

(c) How could you tell that the task(s) achieved the intended purposes?  Do you have any evidence?
Buzz in the classroom and desire to bet on 7.  Clarity of pupils final explanations.

(d) Is this example available to see/read about?
Mathematics Teaching 199, (Nov 06) pages 28-30

(e) Can you say why you chose this example?  What criteria were in your mind?
Enjoyment and cognition conflict.  Class thought  7 would ALWAYS win and the game demonstrated otherwise.  The game also hinted as to why 7 was the best bet through practice.

Building a feel for the shape of a probability distribution before defining it arithmetically roots the concept in a practical experience (less likely to be forgotten) rather than in a theoretical algorithm (more likely to be forgotten).  The latter can be developed from the former.


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