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 photo explanation to the side, or 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 photo instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Finished Project!Step One:  Make your guess and write it down.Step Two: Make a chart to record your results.Step Three: Roll the dice and record your results as you go.Step 4: Choose the number you are going for!Tip: Use a cup to roll the dice to make them well mixed up.Tip: Roll the dice onto a smooth surface like a table.Step 5: Separate the dice as you roll them.Step 6: Record all of your results on your chart.  What do you notice?Step 7: Look at your results and write out your conclusions.  Was your guess right?  What patterns do you notice? Look at the videos to learn more about probability.
Finished Project!
Finished Project! | Source
Step One:  Make your guess and write it down.
Step One: Make your guess and write it down. | Source
Step Two: Make a chart to record your results.
Step Two: Make a chart to record your results. | Source
Step Three: Roll the dice and record your results as you go.
Step Three: Roll the dice and record your results as you go. | Source
Step 4: Choose the number you are going for!
Step 4: Choose the number you are going for! | Source
Tip: Use a cup to roll the dice to make them well mixed up.
Tip: Use a cup to roll the dice to make them well mixed up. | Source
Tip: Roll the dice onto a smooth surface like a table.
Tip: Roll the dice onto a smooth surface like a table. | Source
Step 5: Separate the dice as you roll them.
Step 5: Separate the dice as you roll them. | Source
Step 6: Record all of your results on your chart.  What do you notice?
Step 6: Record all of your results on your chart. What do you notice? | Source
Step 7: Look at your results and write out your conclusions.  Was your guess right?  What patterns do you notice? Look at the videos to learn more about probability.
Step 7: Look at your results and write out your conclusions. Was your guess right? What patterns do you notice? Look at the videos to learn more about probability. | Source

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Make Your Guess (Hypothesis). Write it down.
  5. Set up a Chart: Make a chart where child can count rolls and results.
  6. Do Your Experiment. Let your child do the experiment with the dice and take notes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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!

How Does It Work?

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:

  1. Help kids understand the experiment.
  2. Help kids understand the format they need to follow: hypothesis, materials, procedure, results, and conclusion.
  3. Help children find videos or other information to research their topic.
  4. Help them create a log to keep notes about their experiment.
  5. Help gather the materials needed.
  6. 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.
  7. Type up the experiment if the child is not old enough to do that.
  8. Help the child figure out how to put things together on their board.

Sample Chart for Results

Rolls
trial 1: correct dice (per roll)
trial 2
roll one
 
 
roll two
 
 
roll three
 
 

5 Different Dice Experiment Ideas

Here are 5 other experiments you can do with dice:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. When Rolling Two Dice, What is the Most Common Sum? (see video below)

How to Make a Science Fair Board

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kids can do most of this work.  It is ok to have it a little crooked because that makes it their work!Type up your notes on a computer or write them neatly. Trim your printed out partsYou can mount these on colored paper to make your poster more eye-catching.Use double-sided tape, glue dots or glue sticks to put on the colored mats and also to attach it on to the tri-fold cardboard poster.Parents probably do want to help them put the information in the right order.Don't forget pictures!Use a stapler on edges to hold the title in place, or other papers.Make your title out of stickers or on the computer with a program like Printshop.Be proud of your finished work!  Practice telling what you did to your parents so you will be ready to talk with the judge.
Kids can do most of this work.  It is ok to have it a little crooked because that makes it their work!
Kids can do most of this work. It is ok to have it a little crooked because that makes it their work! | Source
Type up your notes on a computer or write them neatly. Trim your printed out parts
Type up your notes on a computer or write them neatly. Trim your printed out parts | Source
You can mount these on colored paper to make your poster more eye-catching.
You can mount these on colored paper to make your poster more eye-catching. | Source
Use double-sided tape, glue dots or glue sticks to put on the colored mats and also to attach it on to the tri-fold cardboard poster.
Use double-sided tape, glue dots or glue sticks to put on the colored mats and also to attach it on to the tri-fold cardboard poster. | Source
Parents probably do want to help them put the information in the right order.
Parents probably do want to help them put the information in the right order. | Source
Don't forget pictures!
Don't forget pictures! | Source
Use a stapler on edges to hold the title in place, or other papers.
Use a stapler on edges to hold the title in place, or other papers. | Source
Make your title out of stickers or on the computer with a program like Printshop.
Make your title out of stickers or on the computer with a program like Printshop. | Source
Be proud of your finished work!  Practice telling what you did to your parents so you will be ready to talk with the judge.
Be proud of your finished work! Practice telling what you did to your parents so you will be ready to talk with the judge. | Source

Student Example

How I thought of this experiment:

I like to roll 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!

Question:

How many rolls does it take to get all 40 dice to be the same number?

Hypothesis:

I guess most of the time it will take about 15 rolls.

Materials:

  1. 40 dice
  2. A cup to roll dice
  3. piece of paper and a pen.

Procedure:

  1. I put the dice in the cup and rolled them on the table.
  2. What ever number the big dice rolled was is the number I chose.
  3. I counted all the dice that were that number and marked them on my chart.
  4. 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.
  5. I kept on rolling dice and marking how many were my number on each roll.
  6. I rolled until all the dice were the same number.
  7. Do the experiment 5 times.

Results

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.

Conclusion:

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!

Learning About Probability

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Comments 5 comments

emwhite68 21 months ago

Thank you! This was so very helpful!


Estefany moran mariche 23 months ago

I love this website


Estefany moran mariche 23 months ago

I love this project


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Catsimmons! I had originally posted some information for my kid's elementary school science fair when I was coordinator. That post on my blog brought in so much traffic that I realized there was a need. I moved the information over to Hubpages and expanded it. Now I'm adding individual project ideas. Science projects should be fun!


catsimmons profile image

catsimmons 4 years ago from Mission BC Canada

Super handy hub!!

How many parents have spent hours scouring the web looking for ideas to help their kids? Here they are handily presented together.

Thanks for all the tips!

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