Wheels of Fortune

Probability is a wonderful subject to teach! There are so many activities for teaching concepts, puzzles and problems with non-intuitive answers and a variety of contexts for the exercises. This unit contains a small collection of these activities.


This unit is intended to be the second unit of the course and continues to serve as a bridge between GCSE and Core Maths. Most of the topics covered in this second Pathway are from the Higher GCSE syllabus and so will be vaguely familiar to most of your students. The big difference being that throughout this course we will be trying to make the activities more “thought provoking” by setting them in problem solving context. The intention is to make the questions themselves “intriguing” and hence “worth solving”.

Using Mathematics to Predict

The origins of the science of probability were based on games of chance, such as those involving playing cards, dice and wheels of fortune. Indeed, it is generally agreed that interest in probability began in the sixteenth century from the so-called problem of points. This problem is tackled in this unit. Almost from its inception the study of probability has been linked to gambling and in this unit this link continues. Gambling is widespread in our community but virtually ignored in our schools and colleges. Consequently many of our students leave full-time education with unrealistic expectations about the outcome of gambling.

The study of probability allows us to describe numerically the likelihood of uncertain occurrences. The many applications of probability include weather forecasting, car insurance, risk analysis, medical trials, actuarial science and business planning.

For example, when a weather forecaster says, “There is a 75% chance of rain tomorrow in Chichester,” what does she mean? After all the weather is very unpredictable, so where does this forecast come from? A second example, probably of more interest to your students is, “Why are car insurance premiums higher for young male drivers than for older male drivers?”.

In this unit, students experience probability for themselves through a series of practical activities. We firmly believe that our students will develop their understanding of probability most effectively through hands on activities rather than more complicated abstract ideas.

Wheels of Fortune - Documents supplied

For each activity you will receive a set of draft documents which will be refined as we progress through the course. These documents will include the “story” of the lesson to help you understand how the lesson might flow as well as a Notebook file (Smartboard) and a Power Point file. There will also be any necessary student handouts and advice on anything you need to prepare.

Wheels of fortune_LS.doc, Wheels of fortune_LS.pdf -  The story of the lesson.

Wheels of fortune.notebook - A Notebook file.

Wheels of fortune.ppt - A Power Point file.