Math Focus 8
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# Are You a Psychic?

## INTRODUCTION

A magician, James Randi, has offered a prize of \$1 000 000 (U.S.) to anyone who can prove that she or he has special powers or abilities, such as being able to predict the future or move an object with only the mind. No one has ever passed a test, and the prize is still available. Can you claim the prize?

## THE PROCESS

1. The first test of your powers is simple. Shuffle 32 cards (8 of each suit), then draw one card without looking at it. After concentrating on the hidden card, record your prediction of which suit it belongs to (H for hearts, C for clubs, D for diamonds, or S for spaces). Check the card and record the result as either correct (Y) or incorrect (N). Then return the card to the deck, shuffle, and draw another card. Repeat the test 36 times.

2. If you have no powers and are just guessing, what is the probability of predicting the suit of a card correctly? About how many times would you expect guessers to be correct in 36 trials? Explain.

3. Based on this test, is it possible you have the power of prediction? Explain.

4. Even if you’re not good at predicting cards, perhaps you’re good at controlling numbers over the net. The next test will help you decide. You will try, with the power of your mind, to force the Dice Simulator to show a total of 8. Before pushing “roll dice”, concentrate on a total of 8. After pushing “roll dice” record the result as 8 (Y) or not 8 (N). Repeat the test 36 times.

5. If you have no powers, what is the probability of any roll showing a total of 8? With no powers involved, about how many times should the die simulator show a total of 8 in 36 trials? Explain.

6. Based on this test, is it possible that you have the power to control numbers over the net? Explain.

7. Do you think James Randi would accept a test of your powers that used 36 trials? Explain.

8. Choose a power you may have and invent a test of your power. Describe your test, including the probability of success for someone who doesn’t have the power. Use your test to decide if you may have the power.

Websites:

Dice Simulator

Materials:
playing cards

## ASSESSMENT

 Criteria Work meets standard of excellence Work meets standard of proficiency Work meets acceptable standard Work does not yet meet acceptable standard Connections: Connects mathematical concepts to real-world phenomena Makes insightful connections between real-world contexts and mathematical ideas. Makes meaningful connections between real-world contexts and mathematical ideas. Makes simple connections between real-world contexts and mathematical ideas. Makes minimal or weak connections between real-world contexts and mathematical ideas. Connections: Applies knowledge or skills in new contexts Demonstrates a sophisticated ability to transfer knowledge and skills to new contexts. Demonstrates a consistent ability to transfer knowledge and skills to new contexts. Demonstrates some ability to transfer knowledge and skills to new contexts. Demonstrates a limited ability to transfer knowledge and skills to new contexts. Communication: Explains mathematical concepts and/or procedures Provides a precise and insightful explanation of mathematical concepts and/or procedures. Provides a clear and logical explanation of mathematical concepts and/or procedures. Provides a partially clear explanation of mathematical concepts and/or procedures. Provides a vague and/or inaccurate explanation of mathematical concepts and/or procedures. Communication: Organizes and displays results. Organizes and displays results in effective and clear ways that enhance interpretation. Organizes and displays results in appropriate and clear ways that enhance interpretation. Organizes and displays results in somewhat appropriate and partially clear ways that make inferring necessary by the reader. Organizes and displays results in haphazard and unclear ways that impede interpretation.