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Stop or Dare

All you need for this game is a pack of cards. While you play the game, think about strategies that will increase your chances of winning.

Snail Trails

This is a game for two players. You will need some small-square grid paper, a die and two felt-tip pens or highlighters. Players take turns to roll the die, then move that number of squares in a straight line. Move only vertically (up/down) or horizontally (across), never diagonally. You can cross over the other player's trails. You can trace over the top of the other player's trails. You can cross over a single trail of your own, but can never cross a pair of your trails (side-by-side) or trace over your own trail. To win, you must roll the exact number needed to finish in the target square. You can never pass through the target square. The game ends when a player ends his/her trail in the target square, OR when a player cannot move without breaking any of the rules.

Game of PIG - Sixes

Can you beat Piggy in this simple dice game? Can you figure out Piggy's strategy, and is there a better one?

Sociable Cards

Age 11 to 14
Challenge Level

Why do this problem?

This problem is one of a set of problems about probability and uncertainty. Intuition can often let us down when working on probability; these problems have been designed to provoke discussions that challenge commonly-held misconceptions. Read more in this article.

This problem combines an element of experimentation with some analysis to explain unexpected results. Although the probabilities involved can't be calculated, estimated probabilities can be derived through experiment.

Possible approach

Arrange learners in groups of 4, with a pack of cards and some counters for each group. Ask them to remove the Jacks, Queens and Kings, and then shuffle the remaining cards. Explain how to set up the 'snake' and then ask them to put a different counter on each of the first four cards. Once they have chosen a counter each, get them to see how far they can each go before falling off the end. 

Bring the class together and ask a few groups what happened on their table. Express surprise at how many counters finished on the same card. Collect each group's result on the board in a tally chart like the one below:
All counters on the same card                               
Three counters on the same card  
Two pairs of counters on two cards  
Two counters on the same card  
All counters on different cards  
"Maybe this only happened because we only did the experiment a few times... I'd like each group to repeat the activity at least 10 times and keep a record of your results"
Once the class have accumulated sufficient results, gather the results in the tally chart. Discuss any reasons the learners can suggest as to why the counters so often ended up on the same card.
Use the class's results to estimate the probability of each outcome. Set each group the challenge of developing a way of using the activity as a fundraising game, using the experimental probabilities to decide the pricing structure and winning conditions for their game. These could be presented to the rest of the class at the end of the lesson, pitching to be the group chosen to represent the class at the next School Fair, and explaining why their game would raise the most funds.

Finally, allow some time for learners to work on the challenge of finding a snake where all four (and then five) counters end up on different cards.

Key questions

Where did your counters end up?

Why do the counters so often end up in the same place?
Is it possible to find 'snakes' of cards where all four counters end up in different places?

Possible support

The initial task should be accessible to all. When planning a way to use the activity as a fundraiser, less confident learners could be encouraged to restrict the winning options. For example, they could explore pricing structures for a game that only pays out when all participants land on different cards.

Possible extension

Retiring to Paradise provides a different context for considering the importance of spread as well as average when working with data.