Kermesse! A Probability Project

kermesse matemática!

It’s always difficult to plan for the last lessons of the year, trying to keep the students motivated and enthusiastic while still having learning outcomes for each lesson. So a project based learning activity for the final unit on probability for year 8 was a perfect fit.

Our aim for the 2 week project was for students to work in teams to invent a fairground game and present a business proposal to convince us that their game could turn a profit. This required them to determine appropriate prices for playing the game and for the cost of the prizes, using experimental probability to calculate the expected number of winners.

But alongside the mathematical purpose of the project, we saw an opportunity to work with Community Service and raise money for the work they do with other organisations – another incentive for students to make an extra effort!

So logistically how did it work?

In the first lesson we used a game which Mark Robson has used to present the concepts of experimental probability called “Old Father Robson’s Penny Game”. It’s a great way to promote a discussion on the best way to get reliable results and shows that with more trials, the experimental probability becomes more reliable.

And then it was time to hand over the reins to the students! In groups of 4, they worked together to create their own games and prepare a presentation. To guide them through their projects, we gave them the success criteria so that every student knew how to be successful in this project.

Criteria Marks Available
1.       We have clearly explained how the game is played


2.       We have produced a final version of the game


3.       We have performed a suitable number of trials


4.       We have shown our results clearly


5.       We have correctly calculated the relative frequency of winning based on our results


6.       We have used the relative frequency to calculate the expected number of winners out of 100 players


7.       We have calculated reasonable prices for playing and prizes, showing the amount of profit expected to be made


8.       We have discussed the reliability of our results


9.       We have all taken part in the presentation


Total 10

And then, having given the students all they needed to be successful in the project, for the next week our roles were to guide and support students where needed.

After 3 lessons working within their teams, the students presented their games and were given a mark based on the rubric above. Following the presentations, each student was able to anonymously vote for their favourite game (excluding their own!) and the two groups with the highest number of votes were able to take their games to the Kermesse!

Fortunately all of year 8 have maths during periods 5-6 on Wednesdays so we booked the Middle School Gym for Wednesday lunch time. The winning 12 teams across the year group set up their games at the start of the lesson (secretly checking out the competition as they did so…) ready for the remaining year 8’s to be invited to the fair at 11.30am and the year 7’s at 12.05pm.

And what a success it was! We asked for 10 pesos for two games, using dried beans as a form of payment. Winners were given tickets to a raffle which was then drawn the following week during a lunchtime. We had students and teachers alike joining in and enjoying the games on offer and managed to raise a total of $925 for Community Service!

Fair 1

So what did we take away from this experience? The students got hands on experience in applying experimental probability and could see where it could be applied in real life. On top of the maths skills, they also developed teamwork and presentation skills while having an opportunity to really show their innovation and creativity. They were also able to use the project to raise money for a good cause. And most importantly, both staff and students enjoyed the process! Would we do it again? Definitely.

Categories: Mathematics, Professional Development Contest 2015, Secondary School

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