Probability Lab

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SWBAT design and conduct an experiment

Big Idea

How do you know what is going to happen?


5 minutes
  • POD

As students enter the room, they will have a seat, take out their Problem of the Day (POD) sheet and begin to work on the question on the SMARTboard. The POD allows students to use MP 3 continually based on the discussions we have about the problem each day.

Students will design and conduct an experiment in class today. I want them to think about what is required to conduct an experiment. What do they need to consider? Our discussion before we begin will make sure students design an experiment that will address their question and help them generate results to draw conclusions.


How do you know what is going to happen in an experiment? What do you need to consider? How do you account for all possible outcomes?


30 minutes

The activity today will guide students through a compound probability experiment. In small groups (or pairs) students will receive different components to perform an experiment. The options include a number cube and a coin, spinning two spinners, a number cube and a spinner, a bag of four marbles and drawing a card from a stack of ten cards, rolling two number cubes, tossing three number cubes, etc. Students will use the “Experiment Lab Sheet" to record their results. Students will need to make a tree diagram or an area model to display the possible outcomes. I want them to decide how many times the experiment needs to be performed before starting. We can discuss as a whole class what a strong representation would be of their experiments. Will doing it twice give a good sample? Do they have to repeat it 100 times? What is reasonable? We can discuss sample size and different sample sizes that may be necessary. Students may need to add lines to their tables depending on the possible outcomes. They can use a separate sheet if they prefer.

When the experiments have been conducted, I will direct students to discussion questions on the SMARTboard. As we discuss the experiments as a whole group, I want students to consider the following questions:

Were your outcomes what your team predicted? Why or why not?

How did your group’s results compare with the other groups?

How did your group’s results compare to the compiled results of the class?

Are your results scientifically accurate? Justify your answer?

Would you expect the results of this experiment to always be the same? Why or why not?

For experiments where replacement could occur, how would the results change if you did or did not replace items?

If this activity was used as part of a game, would it be fair or unfair? Justify your answer. If it would be unfair, how could it be modified to be fair?

I am anticipating rich discussion with these questions. There were different experiments conducted and different groups may offer different perspectives. Groups can ask and answer questions based on the research they conducted. I expect reflection and critique based on the discussion. If there are justifications that need support, I can help guide students toward possible options they may not have considered.


5 minutes

The exit ticket today will be the Traffic Light Strategy. I want to get a sense of my students’ comfort level with the experiment process. How they are feeling about it will determine if we are ready to move on or if we need to debrief on the process or the different components of the process (display, experiment itself, outcomes, etc.).