Adaptations of this gambling
game are played by indigenous peoples in parts of the US, Mexico and
Canada. Native Americans used materials such as bone, wood, animal teeth,
walnut sheels, and fruit pits to make gambling sticks and dice.
The following game can be
easily and inexpensively made from tongue depressors. This game can
be used to explore probability and statistics. Students can color the
sticks with their own designs, and store them in a plastic zipper bag.
MATERIALS:
Tongue depressors (6 per player)
Counters (10 chips, beans, paper clips, etc per player)
Permanent markers or colored pencils for decorating sticks
Bank (any shallow container for chips)
ACTIVITY:
Each player needs a set of 6 game sticks and 10 counters.
Each player tosses their 6 sticks, the player with the most designs
up plays first.
Players take turns throwing and scoring counters. Whe the counters are
gone from the bank, a player may take from other players. The player
who wins all the counters wins the game.
Counters are won by each
toss of the sticks as follows:

All 6 sticks design
up 
Take 3 counters 
All 5 sticks design
down 
Take 2 counters 
3 design up & 3
design down 
Take 1 counter 
Any other combination 
Take 0 counters 
DISCUSSION:
1. After playing the game several times, ask students to determine how
many different ways 6 sticks can fall.
2. Have each pair of student throw the 6 sticks 30 times, recording
how they fall. Make
a table showing the results of each outcome: 0 up, 1 up, 2 up, 3 up,
4 up, 5 up, and 6 up.
3. Compile each pair's data to make a class total for each category.
Graph and determine the experimental probability of each outcome. Discuss
the theoretical probability of each outcome.
(Adapted
from Math Around the World, Regents of the University of California,
1995) 