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A table with cubes showing the results of an experiment
The paired cubes represent the experimental results.

Using cubes

Now we would like you to try out an experiment to model the situation in ‘The dog ate my homework’. You can do this on your own - we are not asking you to run the experiment with a class at this stage.

We would like you to run the experiment with 24 trials (i.e. 24 simulated excuse-giving students).

  • If you have access to interlocking cubes, do use them; the picture above shows an idea for displaying the results.
  • If you do not have the correct coloured (or any) cubes, feel free to substitute alternative physical apparatus. We have carried out the same experiment using red or green bottle tops to represent the result of the first spinner; and we place a bean into the bottle top to represent the fact that the student is accused of lying. With a little creative thought, you should be able to find a way forward!

Remember the questions that were set when the task was introduced:

  • What are the chances that a truthful student is accused?
  • What are the chances that a student who is accused is actually telling the truth?

Once you have carried out the experiment, think about how you could you use the apparatus to help you answer these questions. Please use the comments to share your thoughts and experiences.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Probability

Cambridge University Press