## Wednesday, April 11, 2012

### Mathematical Simulation - Sampling

To continue our data collection and probability work in math, we are now in the process of doing a mathematical simulation. This simulation introduces children to the marketing strategy of putting toys in cereal boxes to increase sales. I introduced this activity this morning by telling the students that the president of a cereal company needed our help. She wanted to get more and more people to buy cereal, so she was putting six different Pokemon cards in the boxes in a random way. I asked, "So would you need to buy just six boxes of cereal to complete the collection?" Most students thought that you would probably have to buy more than six, as you could get the same card several times. There were lots of estimations - from 7 to over 100.

We then started our data collecting. Each child got a data collection sheet and a die. As they rolled the die, they made tally marks on the number they got. Once they got the final number (or the final "card"), they stopped rolling and counted the tally marks. Sometimes the family got lucky and got all six cards with just 7 or 8 boxes. Some unlucky families had to buy over 30 boxes!

We will continue this data collection tomorrow during math stations - the more data we collect, the better the results will be. We will analyze the data next week to find out how many boxes, on average, a family would need to buy. Then we will write a letter the cereal company president telling her if this strategy of putting cards in boxes was a good idea.

I like this simulation for the mathematical concepts it makes real-life and meaningful (sampling, data analysis, finding the mean, or average, given a set of numbers, etc.), but also as a way of introducing the consequences of falling for advertising tricks and why it is important to become more wary consumers.