To Be, or Not To Be?

To Be, or Not to Be?

The name “Hamlet Happens” comes from the old idea that if an army of monkeys were to hit the keys of a typewriter (or word processor) randomly, eventually the whole of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet would be typed. Of course the length of time that we would expect to have to wait for such an extremely unlikely event to happen is billions of times the age of the universe. In this manipulative, letters are drawn at random from the beginning of Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be, or not to be.” Any word made from those letters (such as TOE), of length five or less, can be entered in the box. When Start is pressed, letters are drawn and recorded. The process continues until your word (in the right order) appears (in blue).

Goal of Instructional Unit

The purpose of this manipulative is to help students recognize that (1) unusual
events do happen, and (2) it may take a long time for some of them to happen.


Hamlet Happens Applet


  1. Enter your word    
  2. Simulate random typing
  3. After you have entered your word, click Start to begin the random drawing of letters from the draw box.
  4. You can pause (click Pause) to stop the simulation, and then restart when you wish (click Start).
  5. Clear the current simulation
  6. Click Clear to stop the simulation. Your word will be cleared, and the list of draws will be removed.
  7. Explore with words of different lengths


Bruner, J. S. (1961). “The act of discovery”. Harvard Educational
31 (1): 21–32.

Doetsch, Carolyn; Peter Flanagan-Hyde; Mary Harrison; Josh Tabor; Chuck Tiberi,
NCSSM Statistics Leadeship Institute “An Exercise in Sampling: Rolling
Down the River” July, 2000

Year 10H Students:

For your probability test REVISION, please download and do the practice problems.

Hampton Park SC – Probability Revision

It is HIGHLY recommended that you do these problems so that you are prepared for the upcoming Probability Test on Thursday (22/09/2011).

Good Luck?

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