Monday, June 11, 2012

How long until we "Pig Out"? Part I

"What are the chances of a 'Pig Out'? Part I" is the most popular post on this blog. The activity ends by asking the reader to consider how many tosses it would take, on average, to roll a "Pig Out" and lose the points accumulated during the turn. Just in case you are not familiar with the game Pass the Pigs™, or didn't read the earlier post, here are the rules and a figure showing the scoring:

I developed the following problem solving workshop with my colleague, Dr. Mary Richardson, as part of a presentation for a Math in Action Conference.


Understanding the Problem
In the dice rolling game, Pass the Pigs™, players are always on the look out for the dreaded "Pig Out." If it is tossed before a player passes the pigs to an opponent, the player loses all the points for the round.  A "Pig Out" occurs when the pigs land on opposite sides – dot and no dot (as seen above). Therefore, it would be good to know about how many tosses it typically takes before a "Pig Out" occurs.

Create a Plan
How might you solve this problem?
Please consider several possible solution methods

Carry Out a Plan
Try one of the plans you considered in the previous phase

Looking Back/Ahead

  • Use your results to answer the question, "How many tosses would you expect it takes until a "Pig Out" is rolled?"
  • Evaluate the plan you used (glows and grows) – What did you like? What would you do different?
  • Describe an extension – What other questions arise from this game?


Before I share our results, I want to provide you an opportunity to try solving the problem yourself. There is a free game here if you want to gather your own data. In future posts, I will describe two approaches we used to answer this important question.

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