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V.I.K. Clark (Anderson H.S.), D.C. Boice (SwRI)
The concept of random walk is imporant for understanding a variety of natural phenomena in nature. A game that uses cheap, easily obtainable materials with simple rules is described for simulating the random walk of photons from the interior of the Sun to its visible surface. The game is appropriate for high school and introductory university classes. Pairs of students create unique paths of 100 segment length using a random number generator (a die) on a transparency on top of hexagonal grid paper. They investigate the relationship between the number of scatterings (N) and the cumulative distance (D) from the starting point. Afterwards all random paths are superimposed on an overhead projector and all reults are combined to establish the square root of N dependence of D. Students discuss questions concerning mean free path, the application to the Sun, etc. This hands-on activity is found to be more instructive and enjoyable than computer simulations. Other findings from our classroom experiences are presented.