Russian Fable

This activity is based on predicting probabilities and experimenting to see if the theoretical model fits the observed data. The probability is not difficult once the strategy, essentially enumeration, has been thought through. It is said to be based on an old Russian peasant tradition for deciding who in the village was going to get married in the next year.

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Summary

This activity is based on predicting probabilities and experimenting to see if the theoretical model fits the observed data. The probability is not difficult once the strategy, essentially enumeration, has been thought through. It is said to be based on an old Russian peasant tradition for deciding who in the village was going to get married in the next year.

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Mathematical strand

Probability

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Prior knowledge

It will require students to have mastered finding probabilities through listing all the possible outcomes.

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Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

•AQA

•C&G

•Eduqas

•Pearson / Edexcel

•OCR

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Suggested approaches

This could be started with a very brief historical context, followed by students working in pairs to obtain observed class data, and a second phase of students working through the theoretical approach.

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Resources/documentation

In addition to this overview there are:

• Teacher notes

• Handout

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Relevant digital technologies

This does not require any use of digital technology.

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Possible extensions

The problem can be extended by considering more ‘blades of grass’ and it would be possible to use significance testing to compare theoretical and observed data.

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Acknowledgement

This is a resource developed for the CMSP by David Burghes (CIMT, Plymouth University).