Grade Level: 4th to 8th; Type: Social Science, Psychology
This project explores whether people’s choice of a “random” number is not so random after all.
- Will a disproportionately high percentage of people, when asked to randomly choose a number between one and 20 inclusive, select the number 17?
Apparently the answer to the above question is a resounding “yes.” In trial after trial, the number 17 always gets chosen most often. Don’t believe it? Experiment on your friends.
- Test subjects
- Paper and pencil for recording and analyzing data
- Ask as many people as possible to randomly select a number between one and twenty. Record answers.
- Analyze results. What percentage of people choose the number 17?
- Assuming the number 17 did indeed occur most frequently, consider possible reasons for this bias. In doing so you might consider factors such as odd/even, prime, and cultural significance.
Terms/Concepts: 17, random, odd/even, prime, cultural significance
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