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Spinning Nickels

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Summary

Students will make predictions about the probability of a spun nickel landing on either heads or tails. Students will then test their predictions through experimentation.

Coin Type(s)

  • Nickel

Coin Program(s)

  • Generic

Objectives

  • Students will make predictions and test their predictions.
  • Students will record their predictions and represent them graphically.
  • Students will write conclusions from their experiment.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Science

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Math
  • Technology

Grades

  • Third grade
  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade
  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Two
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 46-90 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Data analysis
  • Graphing
  • Nickel
  • Scientific data
  • Spreadsheet

Materials

  • 1 nickel per student
  • Spreadsheet program like Excel (optional)
  • Graph paper to record data
  1. Distribute one nickel to every student. Ask them to make some simple observations about the nickel.
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Have each student record the combined class data next to their own data on their own charts.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Technology Extensions

Use the electronic coin toss at http://www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/classActivities/classGadgets.cfm

Evaluate the students' predictions, data, graph and conclusions to see whether they have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 3-5 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 3–5 all students should

  • 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

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