# Would You Chance it All?

How often do you take a chance? The answer would be every day. Every day we take a chance, whether it be crossing the road, going to the gym or simply choosing to watch the TV. We cannot predict the potential outcome of doing something, yet, without even thinking, we create the factors that are influenced by our decisions. Something of which has lead us to be where we are to this day.

Before this module began, I remembered learning about probability in high school. I was never intrigued by the prospect of learning about probability. However, after the lecture about this I have felt that I can relate chance and probability to my personal experiences and highlight to pupils the basic maths behind this, whilst making it enjoyable to learn about. Inter-connectedness is a concept of Liping MA’s that can be used between maths and our everyday lives (Ma 2010). By interconnecting our experiences with the subject of probability, basic mathematical skills can be integrated into our everyday experiences, something which I believe is important when obtain fundamental maths skills.

Probability is “the likelihood or chance that something may happen” (Turner, n.d. p5) and can be worked out by:

Probability of something happening = The number of  ways it can happen – over – the total number of outcomes

For example, when rolling a dice there are 6 possible outcomes. However, if I were to only try and role a 5, the possibility of this would be 1 in 6. In many cases people try to predict the possible outcome, however as we have discovered in maths, it is not as simple as this.

Gambling has a profound and direct link to probability and chance. By taking this chance it can be the profit or the lost to some people’s bank balances. Those who are serious gamblers are costing the government £1.2 billion a year (IPPR, 2016). This is not only impacting the economy but can also cause extreme debt for some people, and a break down in relationships and mental health. This is why some people try to predict casino games and influence the outcome, in the hope they can solve the problem (Aasved, 2004).

There are aspects of gambling which are linked to multiple perspectives. This is about having a variety of different ways to reach an answer. For example, there are variety of meals you can have in a restaurant. Say for example there were 2 choices for a starter, 3 for main meal and 3 for dessert, you have to list of different meals that you can possibly have. Therefore, there are many different combinations and to figure this out multiple perspective is important.

Gambling is something which relies on randomness and probability (Turner, n.d). When discussing this in our lecture, we all thought that surely humans can create randomness effectively? Wrong! We wrote our predictions of either heads or tails, if we were to flip our coin 30 times. I thought I would try and mix it up a bit, put heads 4 times in a row, a couple tails etc, but the answers truly baffled me. It ended up being completely 50/50. Even when I was trying to be as random as possible. The results were similar on a larger scale of our class, with the majority of people being one or two off the other. When actually flipping a coin, my results were 21 heads and 9 tails, and this varied around the lecture room. Therefore, as humans, we THINK we are being random, however nothing is quite that simple and we actually try to create logic results rather than random. I remember when conducting my answers, I thought I had to put a head and not another tails because 4 tails in a row was being silly, yet the physical experiment proved this to happen with heads.

Using a coin is a simple way of introducing probability and chance to children, as there are only two outcomes. If they have the basic skills and understanding of what a half or 50% means then probability can quickly follow behind. This aids their longitudinal development, as they have the basic skills prior to probability and therefore they can build on this to have a deepened understanding of problem solving and the possibilities of finding the answer. It also helps them in more complex scenarios, for in class work and future work, if they were working in a restaurant for example. Therefore, multiple perspective, basic skills and longitudinal coherence, all key skills in profound fundamental maths (Ma, 2010) can be shadowed through everyday maths.

It is important that we recognise that gambling can possibly be predicted. However, slot machines and casinos profit more from us than we would ever earn back (unless you’re the 1 in 45057474 to win big on the lottery! (Lottoland, 2016)). Slot machines are to us, a quick and easy way to win money back. Charles Fey, developed the Liberty Bell machine in 1895, which has 3 reels and 5 symbols. This machine in particular pays out 50% of the time with an average of 75% pay-back. Therefore, although you seem to ‘win’ more, you are in fact, losing more!

Stefan Mandel, 1964, applied to buy every combination to the Romanian lottery. He followed this up by doing this with the Virginia state lottery. The video below highlights the result of this.

In conclusion, probability and chance is something that we use every day. Some people take this for granted and some take it to extremes. However, we have the ability to use multiple perspectives to figure out possible outcomes, which can be used in our daily lives and in maths in primary school. Yet, probability on a gambling scale, as seen in the video, can be on a completely different scale to our everyday probability. I believe that Liping MA’s principles are important here and they are concepts that I will look at deleloping in future placements and my teaching career.

References:

Aasved, M. (2004) The Biology of Gambling. Springfiled: Charles C Thomas.

LottoLand. (2018). The Probability of Winning the Lottery. Available: https://www.lottoland.co.uk/magazine/the-probability-of-winning-the-lottery-.html. (Accessed on: 17th October 2018)

Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics (Anniversary Ed.) New York: Routledge.

Slot Machine History (2010). Who is Charles Fey? Available: http://slotmachineshistory.com/charles-fey.htm. (Assessed on: 15th October 2018)

The Progressive Policy Think Tank. (2016). Cards on the table: The Cost to Government Associated with People Who Are Problem Gamblers in Britain. Available: https://www.ippr.org/publications/cards-on-the-table. (Accessed on: 16th October 2018)

Tuner, N. (no date) Probability, Random Events, and the Mathematics of Gambling

Wherbert, P. (2010). Stefan Mandel (online video) Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TqFp0efLK0 (Accessed on: 16th October 2018)

# The Science Behind the Experiment

When entering 1F06 before our first science lesson I was nervous. The prospect of having to teach a science lesson is an area of learning I felt I couldn’t do. However, instantly the lesson grabbed my attention and showed me that science can be engaging.

We were all given the task of demonstrating an experiment and explaining how it works. I chose to show how to create ‘cornflour slime’. For this you only need cornflour and water. Once the consistency is right the liquid becomes hard when force is applied and returns to a liquid when there is none. It becomes a solid when force is applied as the particles of the cornflour lock together and then a liquid when there is no force, as the particles are suspended within the water. I believe that this experiment can intrigue children of all ages and is extremely simple to conduct. However, the science behind it is more focused towards those in upper level and this can be broken into the concepts behind the experiment.

Richard made us aware of the importance ‘P-O-E’ (predict, observe, explain). Firstly, you can get the children to predict what they think will occur in the experiment and the outcome. This could be formally written in a report as a hypothesis or just verbally. Secondly, they observe the experiment, this means they can repeat the experiment in groups or later at home. Lastly, explaining why the experiment occurred and what it means, will get them thinking about a variety of science concepts and thinking about real life scenarios that an experiment would apply to.

Science is extremely important to teach within primary schools as children will engage with active learning, whilst learning new concepts. There are many possibilities for future lessons from experiments such as; report writing, presenting, measuring distances and calculating time. Furthermore, I am now less apprehensive with teaching a science experiment and have seen a variety of other experiments that I can now use for a class lesson. These science workshops have demonstrated the many possibilities that science can bring – something which excites me.

# Reflection – Semester 1

Throughout my first semester I have learnt that hurdles and challenges are what makes you a better person. When reflecting on the Working Together module, I overcame many hurdles. All of which helped my confidence. Just before our presentation a member of our group couldn’t attend. Although this sent us into a panic, it taught me that when things don’t always go right – it’s about how you deal with these problems that shows who you are as a person and your own capabilities. Following this, I can see that in teaching things will not always go to plan. Some lessons may not be successful and others may need adapted to go right on the day. This is the joy that teaching can bring. I am excited but anxious about placement, however I know it’s a learning curve and will provide me with key skills that I can use throughout university and the rest of my professional career. I am aware that my confidence is still developing, yet by interacting with new people and learning new skills, I know that university will change how I perceive things. From what I have learnt so far, it is fine to have push backs once in a while, as these are how we become better in our profession and life.

General Teaching Council for Scotland states that it is vital to critically examine personal and professional attitudes and challenge assumptions. I feel like I did this through the Values module. I came into the module with the assumption that I knew a lot about stereotypes, race and gender. Little did I know I was barely scraping the barrel. I am now more conscious about how I present myself and the things that I say. This is a vital quality to have within teaching, as you will meet people from different backgrounds and cultures, everyday throughout your career. Starting with the values module in semester one was more crucial to my learning as a student teacher than I could have imagined. I have challenged myself and my outlook on life and the world and this is something I never thought would occur.

# Resource Allocation – Meritocracy Within the Classroom

Our first seminar with Derek, saw us split into five groups. He told us to come up with the a ‘guide to fresher’s week’. He handed out envelopes full of equipment we were to use. Whilst doing so, we spotted that group 1 and group 2’s envelopes were much bulkier than the one we received. At this point in time we questioned whether some tools were left out and whether we should ask Derek if this were the case.

Our envelope included;

• 1 post-it note
• 3 paper clips
• A pencil
• Blue tack

This was in comparison to the other groups who had multiple pieces of card, different coloured pens, scissors and much more.

When delivering our idea to the class, we were aware of the positive feedback and interaction Derek portrayed to the first few groups. Our group felt very proud of coming up with the idea of a game from the limited resources we had. However, to hear next to no feedback, this made us question what we were doing wrong.

Upon creating our game, we felt we had to prove ourselves. We wanted to create the best idea and in return receive positive feedback. Yet, when Derek was scanning everyone’s ideas, he hardly interacted with us and at one point offered biscuits to group 1 and 2 and told them how imaginative their ideas were. At this point in time, we all felt neglected by Derek and therefore believed it was our fault.

When demonstrating our ideas to the class, Derek once again praised the groups before us about how inventive and imaginative they had been. Although to us, we believed we had the most imaginative idea. As our turn arrived we noticed Derek’s interaction had immediately dropped. He continued to look out the window and gave us no feedback. This made us feel extremely put back and more than ever made us question what we had done wrong. Not only that, but we felt annoyance towards him and the lack of attention we were given.

This particular task made us aware of meritocracy: the holding of power by people selected according to merit. Derek’s demonstration highlighted that teachers cannot discriminate against those without resources. The praise he awarded to others would make a child feel anxious about their studies and relationship with their teacher, which is not a healthy environment. When discussing the topic with the class, we became aware that group 1 and 2 had no realisation that they were receiving better treatment than the rest of us. This highlights that those with the best resources and opportunities in life, have little awareness about those surrounding them living in poverty and deprivation.

Overall, it is clear that becoming a teacher can be a struggle. It is not simple to give everyone the same opportunities when you have little understanding of their background and can become extremely easy to favourite particular students over another, without being aware of doing so. To prevent this a teacher should provide the same opportunities for everyone and understand that particular students made need more help than others. When achieving this the class environment becomes equal and enjoyable for the students.