Off-the-shelf Masterclass: Get Lucky!

Off-the-shelf Primary Mathematics Masterclass exploring the mathematical probability of winning the national lottery.

In this Masterclass, students answer the big question ‘Is it worth playing the lottery?’ by exploring combinations, Pascal’s Triangle, probability and randomness.

  • Credit: Jeremy Brooks via Flickr

About this Masterclass

Many people have played the lottery many times, and sometimes they do win. But is it worth it? What is the probability that you will actually win, and win enough money to cover the cost of playing? In this Masterclass, we go on an engaging journey into the mathematical world of probability to answer this question.

Using simple suppositions and engaging tools such as Pascal's Triangle, we can answer the conundrum of whether it's actually worth playing the lottery! 

Length: 2 hours (see the session leader notes for ideas on how to shorten the Masterclass).

Resources needed

  • Flip chart/white board or interactive white board
  • (Optional) “lottery card” for start
  • A coin to flip
  • Print out of Pascal’s Triangle worksheet, one per student
  • Print out of More Combinations worksheet, one per student
  • Students will need calculators
  • You may wish to find an interactive Pascal’s Triangle online
  • Extension material of ‘Expected Value’ requires sweets
  • (Optional) Printout of the NRICH take home activities
  • Computer and data projector
  • Further details of quantities etc. can be found in Session Leader Notes.


All supporting notes, worksheets and solutions can be downloaded from this page along with the Powerpoint presentation.

The Session Leader Notes offer full notes on the activities and a detailed list of resources, including quantities needed. For additional guidance, the session script gives a full run-through of the Masterclass.

The Session Helper Sheet can be distributed amongst helpers.

Ask the Ri

You can collect any student questions and email them to the Ri Masterclass team at - we will endeavour to answer them before the next Masterclass in your series.

Masterclass series support

For more information on running a Masterclass series and the support, templates and other resources available to you, please get in touch via