Session 8, Part A:
Probability in Statistics

In This Part: What Is Probability? | A Game of Chance?

 Can you improve the odds of a game with practice, or is it truly just a question of randomness? Let's explore this question by playing Push Penny. Note 2 Make the Push Penny board by adding horizontal lines to a 36" x 24" sheet of poster board. (Despite its name, this game uses quarters rather than pennies, since they tend to slide better than other coins when pushed.) Draw the lines exactly two coin diameters apart, as illustrated below -- uniform spacing on the lined poster board is crucial for meaningful analysis and interpretation of the results. Put the board on a flat surface, with a second sheet of blank poster board in front of it. To play, push a quarter from the edge of the blank board onto the lined board. Each round of the game consists of four pushes. You score a "hit" if the quarter touches one of the lines when it stops. You "miss" if the quarter stops between the lines. (Remove the coin from the board between successive pushes.)

 Problem A4 Suppose you wanted to find out whether you could develop skill at playing rounds of Push Penny. How might you design an experiment to test this idea?

Problem A5

Play 20 rounds of Push Penny (four pushes per round), and record your results from each round using the following format (five rounds are provided as an example):

Round #

Sequence of Hits
or Misses

# of Hits

 1 H H H H 4 2 H H M H 3 3 M M H H 2 4 M H M H 2 5 H M H M 2

 a. Do the results from your 20 rounds suggest that you have developed skill in playing Push Penny? Describe the process you used to answer this question. b. If you don't think you've developed much skill in playing the game, do you think it is still possible to develop this skill? c. Give an example of a game where it is not possible to increase your game-playing skills.

We will investigate Push Penny in more detail later in this session.

 Session 8: Index | Notes | Solutions | Video