Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Gambling Skills

As a wrap-up to our Games of Probability group project, my 6th graders and I were talking about the probability of getting a "Yahtzee" if you were playing with 2 dice instead of five (if there is one mathematical habit of mind that may be burned into the soul of each of my students this year, let it be the idea to try a simpler case). We were discussing the case where you get your Yahtzee on the third roll. We went over the probability of not getting a Yahtzee on the first roll. I rolled 2 dice and didn't get a Yahtzee. We then went over the probability of not getting a Yahtzee on the second roll. I rolled again and didn't get a Yahtzee. We went over the probability of getting a Yahtzee on the third roll. I rolled two dice and, what do you know, rolled a Yahtzee. 
In the words of @cheesemonkeysf, "I love it whenever the Universe tosses a teacher a freebie."


  1. Hi, Avery,

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show for preteens about math that we're putting together. "The Number Hunter" is a cross between Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Crocodile Hunter -- bringing math to children in an innovative, adventurous way. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We're teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you'd be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We're also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,


  2. So, I had a crazy "the Universe tosses a teacher a freebie" moment when talking about the Birthday Problem (how many people must be in a room to have a 50% chance that 2 people share a birthday). None of those of us in the room at the time shared a birthday, than seriously practically in the middle of me delivering the punchline, "23 people," in walks someone late--and shared a birthday!

    Of course, he was the 23rd person in the room.

    I'm afraid a lot of people left that class understanding probability less. But I remain a bit spooked!

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