On April 19, 2020, the All Girls STEM Society held a Probability and Prediction Workshop. Led by Maggie, Lindsay, and Cindy, over 45 girls from grades 5-8 gathered on the online video conferencing platform Zoom. In the workshop, girls were introduced to the basics of probability and how it was applicable to their real lives. However, not gambling! Maggie emphasized, “We are not teaching you to gamble because gambling is bad!”
Maggie illustrated the application of probability to our daily lives by posing the question “How can you raise the chances of your parents buying you ice cream?” There was an interactive Zoom poll sent out that let the girls choose between answers of “you got 100% on your math test,” “you finished all your chores,” and “you asked nicely,” and an option of “all of the above.”
After, Cindy introduced the concept of Predictive Probability, which she defined as “predicting something and how you can increase your chances.” To illustrate this topic, the girls played their first interactive game of the day, a game of 6 vs. 1. Six of the volunteers had been to Europe, while one had not. All of the girls told stories about their experiences in Europe, but one girl was lying. Would the girls be able to guess who it was? Emma spoke about trying escargot in France, while Cindy told a story about getting lost in an airport. The girls interrogated each of the volunteers, trying to find holes in their stories. They guessed that either Emma or Cindy was the “mole”... but it was Cindy. The girls shared that they figured it out by questioning the logistics of the stories and observing the volunteers’ facial expressions.
Then came the game Mafia! In “breakout rooms,” or smaller offshoots of the main Zoom meeting, volunteers helped the girls use their deductive skills to figure out who was the Mischievous Mafia. After a few rounds, the girls looked at the probability of certain combinations of events happening. For example, they calculated the probability of the Helpful Hero being captured but saving herself.
Maggie later introduced more advanced probability techniques like elimination, complementary counting, mutually exclusive events, and the difference between independent or dependent events. The girls tackled some problems to become more familiar with the concepts. One of the problems asked the participants “of the two games we played, what is the probability that we replay the game you want to play?” While the answer was really ½, Elena Grilli said, “One, because they were both fun so we want both equally!” In our hearts, both Elena’s and Maggie’s answer was correct.
Overall, AGSS’s first online workshop was a huge success, and many participants like Veronica and Alarycia noted simply:,“This was fun!”