We continue to collect data and learn about probability in math class. Now that we have helped Ms. Oats out with her dilemma (see last math post), we are on to making discoveries about tossing two dice. All children were secure in knowing that the outcome of tossing one die are equally likely (there is a one out of 6 chance out of getting any number), just like there is an equal chance of getting a heads or a tails each time a coin is tossed (a one out of two chance). They all agree that, given the choice at a carnival, they would rather take their chances at a game with a coin toss rather than dice roll – the odds are more in their favor.
Often children transfer that knowledge of "equal likelihood" to tossing two dice. In other words, they will believe that there is an equal chance of getting the sums 2-12 when tossing two dice and adding them together. In fact, many of the students seemed to think that when we began our investigation on Monday morning – or, at the very least, seemed very unclear on what to expect at all.
But through data collection and analysis, rather than simply telling, it didn’t take long for them to come up with some experiential knowledge. By the second day of playing a game called "Face Off", many were able to articulate that getting the sum of two was, “So rare! You had to get a one and a one, which was really lucky!” Whereas the middle sums were easy to get because there were several combinations of numbers to make a 7, say. The odds were higher.