The Improbability of You Winning the Lottery
Students will look up articles or watch news footage of people recently winning big lottery jackpots. This will create a springboard toward dialogue what entices people to play and who in their lives has won the lottery. Ultimately, the teacher may need to steer the conversation toward the probability of winning the lottery.
2 Direct Instruction
Students will need to learn the concepts of permutations and combinations to better understand the probability of winning a prize in a lottery. Use this time to point out the key difference between a permutation versus a combination and why the term "combination lock" is a misnomer. IXL will reinforce the the basic skills of computing combinations and permutations.
3 Guided Practice
Students will research the rules of playing high-jackpot lottery games such as Powerball or Mega Millions. They will need to discover that the game uses combinations instead of permutations. (The balls drawn need not be in the exact order).
4 Independent Practice
Students will simulate playing the lottery by either picking their own numbers or using a random number generator such as http://www.random.org. The teacher will draw the "winning numbers", and students will check to see if they would have won any money. The first time, students will only do one set, then five, then twenty, then 100. The main idea is to determine whether or not multiple plays significantly affect the probability of winning.
Students will create a presentation and argumentative essay on whether they think taking out a second mortgage to buy lottery tickets for a one-billion dollar jackpot is a good idea or bad idea. They will need to use the application of probabilities to explain the pros and cons of doing such a thing.