Chris Wetzel, from the Rhodes College Department of Psychology, created this resource to help you understand the concept of randomness by trying to behave randomly. You can do this by entering 100 coin-toss results online a number of times and having the results analyzed for randomness. You are introduced to the concepts of runs and serial dependency (or autocorrelation) and the difference between randomness and chaos. You also can determine whether trials are independent by calculating conditional probabilities and comparing them. A quiz is included to assess how well you understand the concept of randomness.
Encourage a discussion among students about why they should care about randomness, including the randomness behind gaming, the random-number generators used by ATMs, how military security relies on encryption based on randomness, and how fairness depends on decisions being made without preference. Students also could debate the idea put forth in the tool that free will ultimately depends on the randomness of human behavior!
Science Update: Spotlight on African American Scientists
6-12 | Audio
Museum of Science, Boston
K-12 | Website
3-12 | Website