How the publisher describes it:
“A pack containing practical hands-on activities, away from the usual dice and coin tossing experiments, that will help in developing an understanding of probability. The tasks were trialled very enthusiastically at a special session during the 2001 Easter Conference.”
Review by Richard Knottenbelt
“Rule changing to achieve desired results is an excellent challenge”
The pack consists of eight parts, each of which is centred on an activity card and teachers' notes. In addition there are seven master cards which constitute the materials.
This book looks at the mathematics behind these types of puzzles, as well as other similar set-ups. Without doubt, the mathematics contained in the book is aimed at university Group Theory students. However, the puzzles themselves have a far wider audience.
The authors aimed at getting away from the time honoured dice and coin tossing experiments which may have become boring to pupils and teachers alike although they are a vital part of the history of probability.
The activities could be used to introduce the idea and ideas of probability before any theoretical constructs are attempted. Both the activities and the teachers' notes pose provocative questions, not completely or satisfactorily settled by playing many games. Can the situations be analysed on the basis of ‘equally likely possibilities’?
That seems to me a crucial question of timing, of careful questioning. Some of the questions suggested on the teachers' notes for this activity include rule changing to achieve desired results which is an excellent challenge.
Are your pupils ready to play games? When they play games do they expect to have fun, deepen their understanding, waste time?
The activities of the pack have tremendous potential for all of these, as opportunities for reluctant, eager and compliant learners to engage in mathematical doing and thinking at their level, or not!
I do wonder if there are situations less artificial to our pupils that would answer their problems rather than ours?
I read the IAMP Report ‘Deep Progress in Mathematics’* alongside the probability pack. For those like myself who are committed to put together an activity based teaching programme but have find it difficult to begin, I cannot think of a more inspiring combination.