Colin's masterclass was a whistlestop tour of classic games - think Monty Hall - and the valuable place occupied by mathematics for people who don't want to fall foul of their tricks. It was an excellent, laid-back source of inspiration and justification for maths in general, with a few opportunities to practise some real maths from secondary school curricula. There was also chocolate.
- Tom Briggs, Education Officer, Bletchley Park
“But miiiissss/siiiiiiiir! When am I ever going to use this?”
“In the head-to-head round of Pointless. Any questions?”
Games, Goats and Gold uses popular game shows to demonstrate that thinking clearly about probability isn’t just good for your exams, but has applications in the slightly-more-real but just as arbitrary world of prime time TV.
Blending elements of game theory, probability and paradox, the Games, Goats and Gold workshop gets students at all levels arguing about what they would do in different situations. It includes a selection of:
Play Your Cards Right: It’s nice to see you… working out how likely you are to beat Brucie’s game of luck and skill. What’s the best strategy? How about if you want to do better than everyone else?
Deal Or No Deal? Given a choice between a guaranteed payoff from the banker and a 50-50 chance of a big win, what would you do? How much would the banker have to offer you to change your mind?
Goldenballs: Will you play nice and split the prize with the other player, or will you do the dirty and steal the lot? We explore Jasper Carrott’s version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma and how it plays out in theory and practice.
Let’s Make A Deal: You’ve probably never seen Let’s Make A Deal. I certainly haven’t. But there’s a fair chance you’ll have heard of its host: Monty Hall. Three doors, two goats, a car1 and a decision - it doesn’t get more controversial than that.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? You’ve made a complete guess at one of the questions. You’ve used your 50-50 lifeline and two of the incorrect answers have gone, leaving your guess and one other. You ask, what would Monty Hall do? And then you remember it’s called 50-50 for a reason. Does it make a difference if you switch?
Only Connect: The Wall Game may as well be in a different language… so you start guessing. What are your chances of winning in, let’s say, 150 guesses?
Pointless: You’ve got guesses of various quality for each of the four questions - which should you pick? And is it better to go first or second?
And, as Tom says, there’s chocolate.
Games, Goats and Gold is a modular workshop, which means it can run from anything from 30 minutes to three hours.
The workshop was developed for bright Year 9 students, but can be adapted for most secondary school groups.
I’m also happy to give assemblies, assist in class, offer small-group or one-to-one tuition while I’m on-site - just let me know if there’s something different or extra you’d like me to do!
Among other things, Colin has given talks and workshops on:
He's perfectly open to ideas about anything else you might want him to speak about (within reason, obviously. If you want lectures on, say, Solzhenitsyn, you might do better to ask someone else.) Just pop him an email at email@example.com and he'll see what he can do.