Beakerhead 2017: up against all odds

Tentacles, and fire, and science. Oh my!

This week we have the pleasure of partnering again with Beakerhead, a Calgary-based charitable organization that “brings together the arts, sciences, and engineering sectors to build, engage, compete, and exhibit interactive works of art, engineered creativity and entertainment.”

We collaborated with Beakerhead for “Up Against All Odds,” an exhibit where players try their luck and see if the odds are ultimately in their favour.

The setup:

Nine stairs. Ten levels. Two options. One die.

Option 1: Start near the top – stair #7 to be exact.
If you roll a 1 or 2, you can move one step upward. Roll any other number, and you take one step back.

Option 2: Start near the bottom – stair #3 to be exact. If you roll a 1, 2, or 3, take one step up. If it’s a 4, 5, or 6, take one step back.

If you reach the top step first—you win. If you reach the bottom step first—you lose.

By rolling a single die, your chances are one in six. Seems pretty reasonable, right?
But is it? What are your chances of repeated success?

Applied math at its most delightful, ‘Up Against All Odds’ was designed by Peter Berg, Department of Science Chair and professor of math and physics at the University of Alberta, and Jon Bichel, Design Engineer at PK Sound, to demonstrate the gambler’s ruin problem.

Beakerhead “erupts” across the city of Calgary from September 13 to 17. For more information and a full listing of events, check out

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