Probability in Real Life

Your students may find it difficult to believe that the concepts of probability really have anything to do with everyday life. If they did, would they still grow up to buy all those lottery tickets? In the Powerball Lottery, the largest in the Unites States, the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 195,200,000!

So says the Book of Odds, which offers blogs, articles, and thousands of thoroughly researched odds on accidents and death, daily life and activities, health and illness, relationships and society. Its carefully calculated probabilities range from the odds of being the only one to survive a plane crash, to the odds of having a heart attack, to the odds of having ever eaten cold pizza for breakfast.

Once your students are immersed in these odds, you might like to introduce the Game of Skunk. Playing and analyzing the game engages students in real-world applications of probabilistic thinking as they examine choice versus chance and practice decision-making.

On the purely theoretical level, your class would enjoy meeting the Smithville Families. This lesson explores the probabilities for the births of boys and girls in a large family. The outcome of a coin toss is used to indicate the birth of a boy or girl. And then you might compare the conclusions reached with those found in the Book of Odds.

My prediction is high on your enjoying these resources!


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