Probability Cardboard Arcade


Most of you have probably seen Caine's Arcade (and if you haven't, stop and watch it).  I loved the innovation the first time I saw it, and we've even done a school-wide arcade here at San Jose Christian a couple of times. 

Last week my seventh grade math students finished up their unit on probability, and the final project in the curriculum was to design and build a cardboard arcade game using the principles of probability. And since I was going to be out a week on a class trip, it seemed like the perfect sub plan. I'm so glad that I did it! 

My students started off by writing a proposal of their game. They had to sketch it, calculate the theoretical probability, and ultimately sell me on their idea (and if applicable, their team). They made themselves a schedule for the week and thought about what they needed to create it. They had to think through how much money they'd charge, what the prize would be, and ensure that they wouldn't lose money. I wanted them to reuse and recycle as much as possible, so I sent an email home to parents asking them not to buy their students anything for this project. Most of them complied. 

I was awed when I came back from our trip at both their creativity and their execution. The games looked great. 

When we were finishing up the activity, one of my students really wanted to play for money, specifically for quarters. At first I didn't get it, but he then explained that he wanted to win quarters for our school's quarter drive for Feed My Starving Chidren's MannaPacks. Love it. The grades are competing to raise the most money, so I thought we might be able to work with that level of competition as well. 

So today we had a carnival in our middle school during lunch. Students paid a quarter to play the game. If the game won, the quarter went toward the seventh grades collection of quarters for the drive. But if the student won, the seventh grade creators of the game, took TWO quarters from the seventh grade collection and gave it to the winning student's grade. We ended up raising about $42 in quarters in 30 minutes and had a ton of fun in the process.