Elementary school children, especially in the upper grades, need experiences with probability. These experiences should include developing a definition of probability, and exposure to the concepts of certainty, impossibility, as well as fair and unfair games. It is also safe to say that elementary PST also need more experiences in these areas, as probability is one of those mathematical topics that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. They should also be exposed to the ideas of theoretical probability, experimental probability, the law of large numbers, and the concepts of dependent and independent events.

As with many topics in the elementary school curriculum, probability lends itself nicely to using a hands-on approach. PST should have experiences rolling dice, spinning spinners, choosing marbles randomly from bags, and flipping coins. They should collect and analyze experimental data alone, in pairs, small groups and as an entire class. They should also perform theoretical analysis of their experiments and examine how these numbers compare as the number of trials is increased. Technology can be extremely useful in these areas. Often times in class we collect all of the class data and find we have a total of 300 trials for an experiment. This seems like a pretty big number when compared to the number of trials each person contributed. But, what technology allows us to do is perform simulations using very large numbers. For example, one of the applets in this section allows you to perform 1000 trials with one click of a button. This opportunity, to collect and analyze large ammounts of trials in a relatively short amount of time is an excellent reason to incorporate these lessons into your PST's probability experiences.

These links will take you to lessons involving probability


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