Probability is one of the most interesting topics to teach but it also can be controversial. A number of the handson activities associated with probability are 'games of chance' (aka casino games/gambling) and have to be presented in a different way. A favorite in the probability world is calculating the chance of rolling a certain sum with 2 dice (or number cubes the PC way to say dice). I have always use the game Beano for this purpose but while enjoying Friends one evening Monica and Chandler provided another illustration while playing craps in Vegas. Now, I would never use this example unless my audience was outofhigh school since it involves gambling and deciding to get married based on the sum of two dice. But is does provide an opportunity to discuss what is the probability that Monica rolls a sum of 8 (5/36) or a 'hard' 8 (rolling 2 fours 1/36). The clip from the episode is below. Enjoy. And in the words of Monica Geller, "It just got interesting."
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I love teaching probability! It is relevant to my student's life. they do not complain about it, and they see the relevancy! (Yay!) And there are super fun techniques to use! BEANO is one of them. Once again, this is not a concept/worksheet that I developed. It was presented to me during the TI Conference in Atlanta, GA during the spring of 2010. Materials: 2 dice (or number cubes as we call them in Georgia) BEANO Worksheets (I give each student their own) Dry Beans (I used blackeyed peas since they were the cheapestthese are great to have for BINGO) I tell my students we are playing a game (insert excited students) and have them place their twelve beans on the front of the worksheet. I usually let them read the instructions on the front and figure it out! Then we play! You can roll the dice and say the sum, have a student do it (I opt for this option), or use a graphing calculator with the probability simulator program. When the dice are rolled by hand I will chart the frequency of the sums on the board for use later! Then we complete the backside. You may have to explain filling in the sum chart for some and I usually will plot the box graph with them. Then answer the questions (it discusses probability and you can add more questions if you want to!) and play BEANO again! The second time around and the questions prompt students to look at which sum (6, 7, 8) are most likely to come up and how they arranged the beans on their boards will noticeable change (see pictures below) or at least they should if they were paying attention. You can play a couple rounds and I usually have the winner be the next roller. The BEANO games played after the worksheet are way quicker then the game at the beginning of class!!! Also, keep track the frequency of the sums and you can use the theoretical chart from the worksheet for use of comparison of the experimental chart you keep track of in class. The more trials, the more like the theoretical the experimental will look like.

Natalie Turbiville
Educator who loves math and working with students. Archives
May 2016
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