Sunday, March 16, 2014

Carnival of Probability

This past week, my awesome partner, Hannah, and I hosted a Carnival of Probability for our 7th graders in our school's multi-purpose room. Let's get to it:
Station 1: Spinner 1
Pick a side. Will the spinner (arrow) land on the 5 or the 15? If you choose wisely, you win that many tickets.

Station 2: Spinner 2
No need to pick a section. You get three spins. Land on the 1, you get one ticket. Land on the 100, you win 100 tickets. BAM!

Station 3: Rolling a die
Pick a game. Grab the six-sided die and roll. 
  • Roll an even number, win 8 tickets.
  • Roll a multiple of 3, win 15 tickets.
  • Roll a one, win 30 tickets. 

Station 4: Rolling two dice
Pick a game. Grab two dice and roll. 
  • Roll two sixes, win 45 tickets.
  • Roll an even number and a five, win 45 tickets.
  • Roll two multiples of three, win 32 tickets.
  • *Roll the same number on our twelve-sided dice (pictured below), win 70 tickets.
See the blue 12-sided die? There's a 12-sided die inside. Cool, right?!
Station 5: Bag of letters
Pick a game. Reach inside the bag of 26 chips chips (pictured above) and pick one chip. 
  • Pick a vowel, win 25 tickets.
  • Pick a consonant, win 21 tickets.
  • Pick the first initial of your first name, win 40 tickets.

Station 6: Ball toss
Take a ball. Toss it in the direction of the cups. If it goes in any white cup, win 3 tickets. If it lands in the red cup, win 35 tickets. Just like that!

Station 7: Deck of cards
Decide on a game. Pick a card or two. Win tickets!
  • Pick a red or black card, win 1 ticket.
  • Pick a red card and a queen, win 40 tickets.
  • Pick a Jack, Queen, or King and win 22 tickets.
Station 8: Coin toss
  • Flip it once and land on heads, you win 8 tickets.
  • Flip it twice and land on heads both time, you win 20 tickets.
You might ask, "Did you really pass out all those tickets?"
The simple answer is, "No!" You don't think we're that crazy, do you? We assigned one to two students as captains for each game. The game captains gave each contestant one ticket with the number won written on it. 

The math: we spent a few days leading up to the carnival talking about probability and identifying "and" statements along with "or" statements. Station 4 was all "and" probabilities which made your chances of winning more challenging. The 12-sided dice game had a less than one percent chance of winning. Station 7 and 8 had a couple of "or" probabilities. Our goal here was for students to have a concrete introduction and application of probability. To enter the carnival, students had to represent the probability of each game as a fraction, decimal, and percent. 

The students had a blast. It was fascinating to hear from them about the carnival the following day. They explained which games were the "easiest" and "hardest." The games (as you can see from the pictures) were nothing fancy, but they did the job. Students will get to cash in their tickets for prizes such as candies, pencils, pens, and Expo Dry Erase Markers. What would your carnival look like? Please share.  Head over here for the paperwork/handouts we used. 



  1. What a great way to create an engaging learning experience for your students. After reading your post I'm thinking of how I could incorporate something similar. I'd probably have the students create tree diagrams that indicate the probability beforehand. Or maybe even have them create their own game (and find the probability) as a group. This is an idea I'll stow away for my probability unit later in the year. Thanks for posting.

  2. This is such a fun way of building background knowledge for a unit. Something interesting would be to run this again after the unit but give them choices. For example, at first I thought you would allow them to spin Spinner 1 OR Spinner 2, their choice. I wonder what they would choose to maximize their tickets won.