Monday, December 9, 2013

Renaissance Casino: Play to Lose


By Macy Stubbs and Haley Seymour - 7th grade students at St. Albans City School



On November 22, 2013, the seventh graders from Team Renaissance at St. Albans City School, had a mini casino to showcase their learning about probability. To an outsider, our casino may have looked like a mini prom. There were gold and purple streamer chandeliers  and bright white Christmas lights hung from the ceiling. As people entered our “casino”, they were greeted with upbeat lively music playing loudly. The casino had an aroma of foods that were tantalizing to middle school students.  Our tables were decorated with purple and gold table cloths and our games were set out creatively on the tables. From different parts of the building this definitely sounded like a dance, but in reality, we were showcasing our way of learning probability.  
When you walked into our mini casino you were greeted with many varieties of probability games. The games we made were similar to games we had played in Ms. Eichorn’s math class. Some of the games we created were: Ski Lift, Making Green, Coin Flip, Cave Maze, Kings and Aces, and Product of 12. These were games of chance based upon theoretical probability.
Renaissance eighth graders were our customers and each student started off with the same number of poker chips that they could use to pay for our games. It cost one dollar to play each game. They would eventually have to win money in order to keep playing. If they lost all of their money,  they could get a loan from the bank. However, our goal was for them to not win. We wanted the casino to make money!
We actually based the amount of money the players won for each game off of the theoretical probability and expected value for each game.  We used an area model or tree diagram to find the likelihood of each outcome.  We used the probability of winning in order to set a prize and then checked the expected value for each game.  Only one of our casino games was expected to break-even, all other games were expected to earn money for the casino. The experimental probability showed that this does not happen all of the time.
We used the casino as a way to collect our experimental data. We collected data as students and teachers within the school community played the different games. We compared the experimental and theoretical probabilities with each other, and then explained what it meant in our presentation to the 8th graders. Each group had a different comparison and all had to explain in their own way. Every group also had to make a presentation explaining what their game was, the rules to their game, and what they did to find the theoretical probability. We then compared the experimental and theoretical probabilities, and explained if the game was fair, or not fair for the players.
The casino was a great learning experience. The seventh graders had fun designing it and the eighth graders enjoyed playing the games. It was a fun and clever way to teach everyone about probability.

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