By Danica Chen, Del Norte High School
Today the La Jolla Riford Library saw the tables in its community room covered with All Girls STEM Society’s trademark pink tablecloths for its beloved Game Theory Workshop. The workshop was designed to instruct participants about probability and effective strategy with hands-on projects and activities.
The workshop opened with a presentation about Janet Yellen, an economist and the first Chairwoman of the United States Federal Reserve. It was followed by a trivia portion, in which girls received prizes for answering questions correctly. Afterwards came a lecture by former AGSS volunteer and current MIT student Kevin Wang, who explained basic game theory concepts with simple games like Rock, Paper, Scissors and coin flips. He then segued into an explanation of a game designed to teach students about probability, in which students were instructed to choose numbers aligning to an array of rows and columns to win Starbursts. Candy was used as a prize throughout the workshop to encourage participant enthusiasm. More probability games were played, each expanding more and more on probability concepts and the strategies that accompany them to best succeed. Girls were eager to participate in the games, and as a result, just as eager to learn the related concepts to help them win.
Following a break and a group picture, another layer of knowledge was added to their basic understanding with the introduction of expected value, a high level concept that the girls came to grasp with simple explanations. After some basic teaching, even a participant, long-time AGSS participant Kasie L., was able to stand in front of the room and teach the concept as well as the volunteers.
The culmination of all the students’ new knowledge led to the last activity: encouraging each student to create their own game. The girls used their newfound wisdom in inventive ways, crafting interesting games and colorful posters as the board. Once they were finished, the participants went around the room playing each other’s games, both having fun and appreciating the unique designs of their fellow students. The winner of each round won a raffle ticket, and the girl with the most raffle tickets at the end won the opportunity to choose from a wide selection of items, including cloth pencil cases, colored pens, specialized erasers, and more.
The workshop, combining the fun and the logic of games, was another part of AGSS’s years-long commitment to making STEM topics engaging and inspiring to young girls. Details for the next workshop, an Aerospace Workshop taking place on December 9th, can be found here.