- Students will make predictions and test their predictions.
- Students will record their predictions and represent them graphically.
- Students will write conclusions from their experiment.
- Total Time: 46-90 Minutes minutes
- 1 nickel per student
- Spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets
- Graph paper to record data
- Distribute one nickel to every student. Ask them to make some simple observations about the nickel.
- Ask the students the following questions to get them thinking about the experiment they will perform.
- Where do they use a coin toss to make a decision?
- Do you think a coin toss is fair?
- What type of coin do they usually use in a coin toss?
- Do you think tossing a nickel would be a fair way to make a decision?
- Do you think spinning a nickel would give the same results?
- Tell the students that they will each be spinning a nickel 50 times to see if spinning a nickel is a fair way to make a decision. They will first write down their predictions. Do they expect to be close to 50% heads and 50% tails?
- Have the students perform their experiment and record their results with a simple chart on graph paper. Try to ensure that each student has ample room to spin their nickels so they fall naturally without hitting objects while spinning.
- Have each student record on a class chart the number of times their coin fell on the "heads" side. Make sure the chart is large so the entire class can see it.
- Have each student record the combined class data next to their own data on their own charts.
- Have the students create a graph showing the frequency for the number of heads. With a range of 0 to 50, 0 and 50 should have a very low frequency and 25 should have a very high frequency.
- Have the students write their conclusions based on the frequency chart they created. Make sure they include whether they think spinning a nickel is a fair way to make a decision.
Differentiated Learning Options
- Have students use a spreadsheet to record their results.
- Create a class spreadsheet in advance and allow students to enter their data and the results can be calculated immediately.
- Allow students to use the graphing features of the spreadsheet program to create their graphs.
Common Core Standards
- design investigations to address a question and consider how data-collection methods affect the nature of the data set;
- collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments;
- represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs; and
- recognize the differences in representing categorical and numerical data.
Discipline: Science Domain: 5-8 Content Standards Cluster: Science and Technology Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards:
- Technological design ability
- Understand science and technology
Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 3-5 Data Analysis and Probability Cluster: Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 3–5 all students should
- describe the shape and important features of a set of data and compare related data sets, with an emphasis on how the data are distributed;
- use measures of center, focusing on the median, and understand what each does and does not indicate about the data set; and
- compare different representations of the same data and evaluate how well each representation shows important aspects of the data.
Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 3-5 Data Analysis and Probability Cluster: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 3–5 all students should
- propose and justify conclusions and predictions that are based on data and design studies to further investigate the conclusions or predictions.
Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 6-8 Data Analysis and Probability Cluster: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 6–8 all students should
- use observations about differences between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations from which the samples were taken;
- make conjectures about possible relationships between two characteristics of a sample on the basis of scatterplots of the data and approximate lines of fit; and
- use conjectures to formulate new questions and plan new studies to answer them.
Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 6-8 Data Analysis and Probability Cluster: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 6–8 all students should
- formulate questions, design studies, and collect data about a characteristic shared by two populations or different characteristics within one population; and
- select, create, and use appropriate graphical representations of data, including histograms, box plots, and scatterplots.
Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 6-8 Data Analysis and Probability Cluster: Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 6–8 all students should
- find, use, and interpret measures of center and spread, including mean and interquartile range; and
- discuss and understand the correspondence between data sets and their graphical representations, especially histograms, stem-and-leaf plots, box plots, and scatterplots.
Discipline: Science Domain: 5-8 Content Standards Cluster: Physical Science Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards:
- Properties and changes of properties in matter
- Motions and forces
- Transfer of energy