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Spin to Win: Probability Games

Spin to Win

The Spin to Win Game is a great introduction to simple probability. In a classroom setting, you can begin by letting the students play the game for awhile, collect their blocks, and observe the patterns of frequency as they play. Once they've had time to play the game with opposing players or teams for awhile it's time to introduce some basic probability vocabulary, such as always, more likely, equally likely, less likely, never.

For example, how often on the green spinner can they expect to receive a red block? On the yellow spinner how often would they receive a blue block as opposed to a red block? What about on the red spinner? What are the chances that they will receive a yellow block when they spin?

It will soon become apparent to kids that the yellow block is really the most valuable block. After all, it's much easier to get the blue blocks and you can trade three blue blocks to get a yellow one. The spinner with the red block is likely to land on a red block at least 1/2 the time, but the red block is still less valuable than the yellow block. You could do lots of spins on the red wheel before you get a yellow block since you're three times more likely to get a blue block than the yellow block on that spinner.

In a classroom setting, it's a good idea for you to keep a chart of all the players and their spins. Students will see lots of interesting patterns after they view the outcomes over a period of time.

The addition of the physical blocks and the methods for trading them is a brilliant way to keep kids engaged in this game. Those yellow blocks are just as valuable as gold coins! Keep track of how long each game takes and give a prize to the student who collects the four yellow blocks in the least number of minutes.

There are thousands of ways to adapt this game. You can continue to create more complicated spinners divided in different ways. By the time you start discussing probability and representing probability with fractions, students will have a firm grasp of what probability is all about.

 

Common Core Mathematical Standard
7.SP Investigate chance processes and develop, use, and evaluate probability models.

Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice
4. Model with Mathematics

 

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