Lesson Title: Coin Toss Experiment Creator: Theresa Bales

Lesson Title: Coin Toss Experiment
Creator: Theresa Bales
Grade Level: 3rd
Big Idea: Statistics and Probability
Essential Question: How can we predict how likely something is to happen?
What is the probability of heads versus tails in a 1000 coin
toss experiment?
Students will develop and conduct grade-appropriate experiments
using concrete objects (e.g. counters, number cubes, spinners) to
determine the likeliness of events and list all outcomes.
Students will analyze real-world data represented on a graph using
grade-appropriate questions.
Learning Skills:
21C.O.3-4.1.LS.3 Student, cognizant of audience and purpose, articulates
thoughts and ideas accurately and effectively through oral, written
or multimedia communications.
21C.O.3-4.3.LS.4 Student appreciates, accepts and works cooperatively with
others, in both academic and social contexts, shares responsibility
for continued improvement of the academic performance and
climate of the school, and exhibits ethical behavior while working
alone or communicating with others.
Technology Tools:
21C.O.3-4.2.TT4 Student uses technology tools (e.g., calculators, data
collection probes, videos, educational software) for problem
solving, self-directed learning, and extended learning activities.
Launch/Introduction (suggested time 15-25 minutes)
Activating Prior Knowledge
Propose this Math Message to the class: Mary and Joe toss a coin to
decide who goes first when they play a game. Is this a fair way to decide? Why
or why not? Discuss in teams asking : What possible outcomes of tossing a coin
did you discuss? How likely is a coin to land heads up? tails up? Is tossing a
coin a fair way to determine the order of play?
Share team discussions. Propose this question to the class: If we tossed a coin
100 times, what do you think the results would be? Why? Get a class
consensus and post the prediction.
Specialized Vocabulary Development
Fair, probability, chances, equal, and tie are words students will use in
their discussions. They need no introduction since this skill has been taught
throughout the year.
Investigate/Explore (suggested time varies from 30-40 minutes)
Students work cooperatively in teams to experiment with coin tossing.
Teams are made up of students with similar ability as chosen by the teacher.
This will facilitate discussion without one partner dominating.
Give each partner team a cup containing 10 pennies. Instead of tossing
just one coin in the air, let the 10 pennies fall from the cup about one foot from
the floor. Count and record the heads and tails results. When that partner’s
results are written, put the coins back in the cup. It will then be the other
partner’s turn to drop the coins. Continue doing this---taking turns--- until each
partner goes 5 times. This should make a total of 100. Use a calculator to add
each partner’s total heads and tails results, and record the totals on the Partner
Tally and Data Sheet. (see attached form)
As the students experiment, walk around to each group to monitor the
discussions. Ask questions such as: Which is occurring more—heads or tails?
Why do you think you got those results? Do you think the trend will continue?
Why/why not? Is your experiment following the class prediction?
Summarize/Debrief the Lesson (suggested time varies from 30-40 minutes)
Come together as a whole class. The teacher charts each team’s results
and totals heads and tails tallies using calculators. If available, use a graphing
program and projector to show class results. Print graph for display. Record as
probability (450:1000), fraction (450/1000), decimal (.450), and percent (45%).
Revisit the essential question. Were we close to our class prediction?
Why do you think we didn’t get exactly 500 heads and 500 tails? What do you
think would happen if we did this 1000 times more? Were your team results
close to the class results? If previous work with two-colored counters has been
done you could ask: Were the results similar to any experiments we have
performed before? Why/why not?
Assess: Have teams make a bar graph of their own results and give the
outcome as probability, fraction, decimal, and percent on the tally sheet.
Materials: a paper cup per partner team, 10 pennies per cup, calculators, tally
sheet for recording individual results, chart paper – whiteboard – or other
technology to record classroom results
Duration: One to 1 ½ hours.
Teacher Notes: Previous work in cooperative groups will ensure good results if
group rules are followed.
This activity is taken from a Unit 12 lesson in Everyday Mathematics grade 3.
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