Science Fair: Rolling Dice Probability Experiment
Quick and Easy Experiment
In a time crunch? Need a project now? Here is a fast, easy experiment you can do in an evening, but which has interesting results. My 2nd-grade daughter was doing this on her own, so it really is her invention. Since she needed a science fair project and we were running out of time, I grabbed the idea and converted it into an actual experiment. See the photos and her poster results below to know how to do the project. Use the videos to help teach more about the mathematical concepts of probability.
Step-by-Step PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Read the Instructions: Depending on your child's age, you can let them read the instructions and look at the step-by-step pictures or read it to them.
- Decide on Your Plan: Older children can figure out how they want to record their experiment. Younger children might need help figuring out how to keep track of the dice rolls and record them on a chart. Kindergarten or 1st-grade children might need adult supervision as they do the rolling and recording.
- Gather Your supplies: You'll need dice, paper, pen and cup (for rolling) on a flat surface. ( Also bring out the camera. Don't forget to take pictures along the way for your poster and print them off to decorate with).
- Make Your Guess (Hypothesis). Write it down.
- Set up a Chart: Make a chart where the child can count rolls and results.
- Do Your Experiment. Let your child do the experiment with the dice and take notes.
- Draw Conclusions: Look at the results together and help them understand the conclusions. Write these down on your paper. You might want to watch some of the videos below to help them understand about probability.
- Type up your Work. Then you or your child can type these up on the computer and print them off. Be sure to use a bold type and a pretty big one that is easy to read.
- Make Your Board: You can buy a tri-fold board and sticker letters, or print off titles on the computer. Let your child make dice out of paper--that is easy!
- Decorating: If you follow a board game, you can use the cover of the game or a copy of it or Internet pictures to decorate too. Usually it is a great idea to put some pictures of your child doing the experiment, or at least one picture of your child on the board to show it is their work.
- Have fun! I know that doing a science fair project is a lot of work, but it is also a time to spend some meaningful time with your child. Often we will enjoy thinking about these projects when we do something similar later--in this case, every time we play a board game involving rolling dice. Let your child tell people what they learned about probability. You will be surprised at how smart they will sound!
What Parents Can Do
For elementary school projects, parents have to help at least part of the way. Here is how parents can be most helpful:
- Help kids understand the experiment.
- Help kids understand the format they need to follow: hypothesis, materials, procedure, results, and conclusion.
- Help children find videos or other information to research their topic.
- Help them create a log to keep notes about their experiment.
- Help gather the materials needed.
- Help them as they write out the different parts of the experiment. For younger children, the parents might want to write down what the child says rather than having the child write.
- Type up the experiment if the child is not old enough to do that.
- Help the child figure out how to put things together on their board.
Sample Chart for Results
trial 1: correct dice (per roll)
5 Different Dice Experiment Ideas
Here are 5 other experiments you can do with dice:
- How Many Rolls? You can throw one dice 100 times to see how many times you get each number: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
- How Many Rolls for a Yahtzee? Playing off the game of Yahtzee where you need to get 5 dice the same number after 3 rolls, see how many times you can get a Yahtzee in three rolls if you try for 50 or 100 times.
- Vary the Number of Dice. We used 40 dice because that is how many we had in the house! You could use 100, or 50 or even 10. We did five trials, but you could do more.
- How Long to Bun-co? Using the idea of the game Bun-co, you can try to see how many rolls of 4 dice it takes for you to get a roll (in one throw) that all the dice are the same.
- When Rolling Two Dice, What is the Most Common Sum? (see video below)
Making a Science Fair BoardClick thumbnail to view full-size
How I thought of this experiment:
I like to roll the dice a lot. We have a box full of dice and I was putting them in a cup and rolling them to see how many times I had to roll to make them all the same number. My mom said that could be a good experiment!
How many rolls does it take to get all 40 dice to be the same number?
I guess most of the time it will take about 15 rolls.
- 40 dice
- A cup to roll dice
- piece of paper and a pen.
- I put the dice in the cup and rolled them on the table.
- What ever number the big dice rolled was is the number I chose.
- I counted all the dice that were that number and marked them on my chart.
- I took up all the dice that weren’t that number and rolled again. I counted how many were my number and put that on my chart.
- I kept on rolling dice and marking how many were my number on each roll.
- I rolled until all the dice were the same number.
- Do the experiment 5 times.
Here is how many rolls it took for all the dice to be the same number. I did the experiment five times.
- Trial 1: 15 Rolls
- Trial 2: 15 Rolls
- Trial 3: 16 rolls
- Trial 4: 17 rolls
- Trial 5: 20 rolls
What I noticed when I looked at my chart was that in the first 6 or 7 rolls, there was always at least one of the dice that was right. Most of the time, there were a lot of them right. Four times I rolled more than 10 of the 40 dice the same number! Usually, I got 30 of the dice to be the same number after 6 or 7 rolls. Getting those last ten dice to be the same number was a lot harder. I learned that the fewer dice you have the harder it is to roll a number.
I was right that it took 15 times of rolling the dice to get all of them the same number. I was surprised that it took more than 15 rolls on three of my trials.
What I learned: I learned that at the end there are mostly 0s because you have less dice and it is harder to get the one you want. You can’t get the one you want so easy when there aren’t as many dice. What I liked about this experiment was rolling the dice and seeing the numbers. I also liked hearing the sound of the dice on the table!