ALEX Learning Activity

Is This Normal? Exploring The Normal Distribution

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Lorie White
System:Lauderdale County
School:Rogers High School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2599
Title:
Is This Normal? Exploring The Normal Distribution
Digital Tool/Resource:
Quincunx
Web Address – URL:
Overview:

In this activity, students will be introduced to the Quincunx or Galton Board. The Quincunx is a device where marbles bounce off pegs and the chance of a bounce to the left or to the right is equal. The marbles fall into trays at the bottom of the device in a normal distribution. The students will complete a What Do I Notice?/What Do I Wonder? Table after playing the Interactive Quincunx. The purpose of the activity is to introduce students to normal distribution.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Mathematics
MA2015 (2016)
Grade: 9-12
Precalculus
40 ) Interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers). (Identify unifrom, skewed, and normal distridutions in a set of data. Determine the quartiles and interquartile range for a set of data.) [S-ID3] (Alabama)

Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets in order to identify normal distributions.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  
Phase:
Before/Engage
Activity:

  1. The teacher will direct students to the Interactive Quincunx.
  2. The teacher will give each student a What Do I Notice?/What Do I Wonder? Table and ask the students to complete the table as they play the interactive game.
  3. Instruct the students to play the Interactive Quincunx game.  Ask the students to change the size and the speed but not to change the probability of a left/right bounce. The students should allow the marbles to fully drop in at least 3 different boards.
  4. As the students complete the table, the teacher should monitor students' progress to identify problems or gaps in learning.
  5. After the students complete the interactive game and the What Do I Notice?/What Do I Wonder? Table, the teacher will have some of the students share their tables with the class.  The teacher should compile a classroom list of answers and questions on the board.  
  6. The teacher will need to point out the game formed a bell-shaped curve if no students point out the shape. 
  7. This activity will be used before a lesson on finding the mean and standard deviation and estimate population percentages by applying the empirical rule.
Assessment Strategies:

The teacher can assess the students' answers on the What Do I Notice?/What Do I Wonder? Table for assessment purposes. The teacher should correct the students' mistakes or misunderstandings.


Advanced Preparation:

Prior to the lesson the teacher should:

  1. have an internet connection (WiFi).
  2. classroom set of computers, iPads, or smart devices. (If allowed students can use their devices.)
  3. assign the Interactive Quincunx game in Google Classroom.
  4. become familiar with the Quincunx or Galton Board (information found here). Interact with the Quincunux or Galton Board to be prepared to address student questions.
  5. prepare a copy of What Do I Notice?/What Do I Wonder? Table for each student and a classroom chart for the compilation of ideas.
Variation Tips (optional):

If individual devices are not available, this activity can be done as a whole class activity.  

The teacher can ask students if the Quincernex or Galton Board reminds them of a familiar game show game. The students may answer "Plinko" on the Price is Right is similar as well as "The Wall".

The teacher may need to play a round of the Interactive Quincunx game to demonstrate the lesson expectations.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

ALCOS 2019

Algebra II With Statistics

25. From a normal distribution, use technology to find the mean and standard deviation and estimate population percentages by applying the empirical rule.
a. Use technology to determine if a given set of data is normal by applying the empirical rule.
b. Estimate areas under a normal curve to solve problems in context, using calculators, spreadsheets, and tables as appropriate.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: Bell Shaped Curve, Normal Distribution