TPIR 05: Safe Crackers

I have mentioned before that I am a huge fan of The Price Is Right. I wasn't always a huge fan of the game Safe Crackers though. I can remember watching TPIR as a little kid and being scared when Bob would walk towards the big doors at the back of the set. Frequently when this happened the doors would open to reveal Safe Crackers (and the terrifying?!) Pink Panther Theme.

I am, thankfully, no longer afraid of Safe Crackers, or Henry Mancini, but Safe Crackers remains a great pricing game to analyze. Since I like to introduce problems before math formulas I would definitely use this before I taught students about permutations. The kids usually have no trouble figuring out that the lock has 6 possible permutations and that only 4 of them are really viable. Occasionally a couple of students do even better. Here is what I share with the class.

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Here is a link to the You Tube clip

The Price Is Right is the longest running game show on American TV, part of its lasting appeal is due to its wide variety of pricing games. Many of these games can be analyzed with probability theory. Take a look at Safe Crackers. What is the probability of a contestant winning this game? What about a Safe Crackers aficionado?

When we do our math homework on Google Docs (to prepare for discussion the next day) students write each notes back and forth on the document (and I chime in as well). Here are some notes they wrote about this problem:

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TPIR 02: Danger Price

Danger Price is another Pricing Game from The Price Is Right I have students analyze to learn about Probability. This one, like Flip Flop just requires students know the definition. Let's get right into it:

Click through to watch the clip.

Click through to watch the clip.

Here is another classic pricing game from The Price Is Right. Watch Danger Price and then use what you know about probability to answer these questions.
(a) What is the probability of winning Danger Price if the contestant plays blindly         (i.e. just guessing)?
(b) Are there strategies a savvy contestant can use to increase their chances of winning Danger Price?
(c) The actual probability of winning Danger Price based on historical data is .361. What does this imply about your answer to part b?

You can get 40 years of pricing game stats here. Freaking awesome.

A few more Danger Price plays from the TPIR Web site.

TPIR 01: Flip Flop

I can remember watching The New Price is Right with my grandmother way back in the 70's and perhaps that is why I still love it today. Anyhow, I have found TPIR to be fantastic for engaging my students in probability and hooking them into analyzing some pretty complicated probability problems. Sometimes we analyze these clips in class, but frequently I just mix a TPIR question in with their homework. Going forward I am going to pretend that all these TPIR questions are from homework problems. I almost always assign my math homework on Google Docs. Every night students get a new Google Doc with a variety of problems on it, many are Exeter style problems, but I have found other problem styles (like these TPIR problems work really well on a Google Doc also) If I am really playing my A game the problems will be completely spiraled (like Exeter) and my students might get say 1 or 2 probability questions a night over multiple weeks until we have unwittingly learned a ton of probability. At Exeter math students can all meet in the evening to collaborate on their math homework (the Exeter math books even talk about this). At day (not boarding) schools this is usually not possible. This is why Google Docs works so well. Students go online in the evening and «talk» about their math homework on the doc. So after watching this probability problem I would expect my kids to begin analyzing it. We would then continue the discussion in class.

Click through to watch the clip.

Click through to watch the clip.

I bet we can learn some Probability by analyzing the world's best gameshow The Price Is Right. Let's start with an easy one. Watch this pricing game called Flip Flop and then answer these questions.
(a) Are their any strategies a savvy contestant can use to increase their chances of winning this game?
(b) What is the probability of winning the game if the contestant plays blindly (i.e. just makes a wild guess)?