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Take a bet…
May 10, 2012

Clearly gambling is not something which we should be promoting in Maths, but allowing students the opportunity to gamble opens up the chance to discuss the moral, social and financial implications in a real way. When teaching probability as an end of unit project (in pairs) I ask students to create a game, this is an idea which I adapted from this resource on the TES.  I usually start the lesson by giving an example of a game for them to think about – powerpoint here. Then they have to design their own and make sure the odds are in their favour, they have to work out the probability of winning and losing, think about pricing and prizes and from this work out their expected profit if 10 or 100 people play. This can be easily differentiated through outcome and I have done it with low ability year 7 up to top set year 9 by just adapting the success criteria.

Once they have had a lesson to design their game, make any resources and do all the maths you need to get your hands on some plastic money. Each team gets £10 (their games should cost between 0-£2 to play) and the students set up their games like a fair, they have the opportunity to go around playing one another’s games. Once ten people have played their game they should ‘shut down’ their stall. After this, get students to count their money and see whether they made the expected profit they calculated the previous lesson. You can then have a great discussion about why they didn’t make their expected profit (experiments differ from theory) and whether they still have their original £10 and how this relates to gambling in real life – e.g. the house always wins!

This is a fun project but also a great opportunity to assess and explore lots of elements of probability.

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