The Franklin Institute Online presents a
Global Scientific Celebration of Ben Franklin's Tercentenary

"A Penny Flipped is Science Learned"

Ben flips!

The Results

Total Number of Flips = 210,310

Total Number of Heads = 107,562 (51.14%)
Total Number of Tails = 102,748 (48.86%)

Thanks to everyone who participated!

On January 17, 2006, students around the world commemorated Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday by participating in a common scientific enterprise.

Ben is known for his words of wisdom, including "a penny saved is a penny earned." It is fitting that, on his Tercentenary, the power of a single coin was demonstrated when students around the world collectively engaged in a common scientific experiment to determine, once and for all, if "heads" or "tails" occurs more frequently in coin flips.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, students each flipped a coin ten times and then entered their data here at The Franklin Institute Online and merged their data with the aggregated results from coin flips in classrooms and homes around the world. In this way, students saw how science is a distributed, shared pursuit of knowledge by curious thinkers, a lesson that honors the legacy of Benjamin Franklin.

The smallest valued coin of a country's currency was used for flipping, illustrating the greater value gained from the combined strength of common scientific enterprise. The participation cost was just one cent, but the science lesson learned was priceless.

Participation Instructions

  • Find a good penny.
  • Print the OFFICIAL WORKSHEET.
  • On January 17, use the worksheet to record your data as you flip your penny.
  • On January 17 only, return to this webpage where you will be able to submit your data.
  • On January 17 only, there will be an OFFICIAL CERTIFICATE OF PARTICIPATION that you can print and save as a memento of your participation in "A Penny Flipped is Science Learned."
  • On January 18, return to this page to see the final results of the total data collection.

Participation was completely free. There was no need to register in advance, as the data submission feature was only available on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 from 12:00AM EST to 11:59PM EST. Teachers working with a class of students decided whether to have each individual student enter his/her own data or whether to tally the class' data and have one submission. Either method was fine. There was no minimum or maximum number of students. Individual students or entire school populations participated. There was no limit to the number of CERTIFICATES you may print.

Email webteam@www.fi.edu with questions.



The 2004 Practice Trials


Resources for Science Learning at The Franklin Institute, Copyright 2007 The Franklin Institute, 220 North Twentieth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, 215-448-1200, webteam@www.fi.edu