Monthly Archives: March 2011

WCYDWT: Ten Heads in a Row (Hello World!)

I’ll have time to post my pedagogy and teaching philosophy later. I’ll also clean up the look of this site, pardon the dust.

I just signed up to share a project I made for a probability lesson (independent events), that could be useful for other teachers!

It’s famous UK magician Derren Brown flipping a coin and getting it to turn up heads, ten times in a row. The explanation is included: he was flipping coins for the better part of a day, until he finally got a string of ten heads together.

My Setup: Play the trick, then ask for explanations. Play the explanation video (with beeps) and get the students to try and solve for the amount of time and/or probability of this happening. If the students need to know how long a flip takes, you can play the original trick video edited with a timer. After groups have come up with solutions and explained their process, watch the full un-beeped video for the answers.

from Derren Brown, The System [2008]

The project files can be found here:

(N.B. you may want to tell your students to make the simplifying assumption that there’s an average of 2.5 flips per trial. If you want to get more complicated you can get them to do the expected value calculation for 1 flip trials, 2 flip trials, 3 flip trials, etc… and reach the expectation of 2.5 flips per trial themselves)

Should Derren Brown be happy it took ~9 hours?

Use freely!

…oh, and hello and welcome to my teaching blog. My name is Mr. Chow. 🙂

Full Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to these videos. My intention here is not to break copyright law, but instead to teach students how to think critically and learn a bit of probability. If you own this video and take issue with this, please let me know and I will remove it. Also, I am heavily influenced by Dan Meyer, David Wees, Shawn Bullock, Steven Hurley, etc… I admit openly to taking their ideas and running with them!

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in probability, wcydwt


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