Data Analysis:   Coin Flipping

Featured Data Analysis Activity: Heads & Tails Data Collection

In this activity, students toss a penny and a dime and record whether the outcome is HH, TT, or HT and which coin is heads or tails.   Students cut apart their results and add them to the class results to create a class pictograph which can be analyzed and compared to the expected outcomes.   Students analyze the results to determine if the game is fair or unfair.

It is important to use two different coins so that students see that the coins matching (HH or TT) and the coins not matching (HT or TH) are equally likely outcomes. Students often respond initially that the game is unfair because the player who wins when the coins match has two chances to win while the other player only has one chance. Using two different coins and recording the results of both coins helps students dispel this initial misconception as they analyze the graph results and create a tree diagram for the event.

Heads & Tails Game

Featured Project: A Penny Flipped Is Science Learned

The Franklin Institute invited students around the world to participate in a penny flipping experiment to commemorate the 300th birthday of Ben Franklin. On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, students were asked to flip a coin 10 times, then enter the results online where students could also view the results from around the world. Visit the Franklin Institute site for specific directions for the experiment and to download practice worksheets. The site also lists additional links for more information on coins and probability.

Link: Penny Flipping Game

Students each flip coins and alternate calling "heads" or "tails." The winner places the penny on his/her ten-frame mat. When one partner fills his/her ten-frame, that partner exchanges the ten pennies for a dime and the game starts over. The first player to get three dimes wins the game.