Buffon’s Needle- a mysterious probability activity

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  1. Lynn Corum says:

    A great field day activity for end of the year HS math — probability AND geometry (Pi): Use up those last, past-their-safe date, frozen food-service hot dogs instead of throwing them away (donations from supermarkets help too). The idea is to use hot dogs that are NO LONGER EDIBLE — don’t waste! —
    Mark off the football field or basketball court with parallel lines. Distance apart:the length of an average hot dog. Then toss outdated, frozen hot dogs from the top of the bleachers onto the marked-off field. Hot dogs hitting a parallel line are HITS and hot dogs NOT hitting a line are MISSES. Use the scoreboard to keep track of HITS(home team) vs. MISSES (visitors). This is basically a giant, fun Buffon’s Needle and the mysterious outcome, so close to Pi, is fun. You need at least 1,000 hot dogs. To keep the math simpler, try a multiple of 213 (like 2,130 hot dogs or 1,065). Other possible objects would be pens out of ink, or stale breadsticks, or Have fun!