Thinking About Probability

In class, we are studying probability. This week, we’ve done several experiments with probability. Today, Friday, January 27th, we discussed what we discovered yesterday. Here is a condensed transcript of what happened.

Mrs. Blum: Yesterday, we explored probability, and we spun some spinners.  You predicted that with ½ of a circle colored, the spinner would land on the spinner 50% of the time.  Then we spun the spinner 50 times. What were our results?
Everyone: Different. I got 15! I got 17! I got 32!
Mrs. Blum: Why was it different? I want you to think about that a minute and then talk with someone behind you. Why was your prediction of probability different than the actual results?
(Time to chat)
Joseph: It was different because it’s not a magnet.
Ayana: It was chance.
Nyah: I think it depends on how hard you spin it. If you just spin it a little, then it’s different.
Deven: Well, it’s just chance. It’s different than probability.
Joseph: Hey, probably. Probability. Probability must mean probably, like maybe likely.
Mrs. Blum: What does probably mean? How is it different than probability?
(Everyone thinking)
Kanna: Sounds the same.
(Everyone not sure how to respond but thinking)
Mrs. Blum: So, why did we get different results? Does probability have anything to do with it?
Susanna: It just depends on how hard you spin it.
Valdemar: Yeah, it depends.
Joseph: It’s luck.
Me: What is luck?
Joseph: It’s a good thing.
Kanna: (thinking) Hey, but you could wish someone good luck or bad luck, so that means it’s not necessarily good.
Mrs. Blum: Interesting thinking, Kanna. What does everyone think? So, our experiment was this just luck? When people predict probability, does it mean anything?
(Everyone thinking and nodding)
Brandon: Like the weather. People always predict the weather.
Totah: They predicted snow the other night.
Mrs. Blum: And, did it snow?
Everyone: No!
Mrs. Blum: So, is there any point to predicting?
(Everyone thinking)
Mrs. Blum: So, let’s take a look at the line plot we made of our results.
We went on to look at the line plot and the shape of the data. We discussed median, mode and mean in the context of it and looked at the range of data. Students drew in the air the shape they saw. After a bit, we realized both sets of data looked like hills. After closer examination, again the question…
Mrs. Blum: So, after looking at the data and the range of results and the median and the shape, now how does that fit with our guess of probability?
Joseph: Well, it centers right around what we guessed.
Deven: It’s all clustered right around where we guessed, so most of the results are close to what we guessed.
To be continued…Further exploration now on to other probability experiments to see if the shape of data is similar.

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