## Playing Dice and Children’s Numeracy

Posted on December 5, 2007 Comments (10)

My father, Willaim Hunter, a professor of statistics and of Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, was a guest speaker for my second grade class (I think it was 2nd) to teach us about numbers – using dice. He gave every kid a die. I remember he asked all the kids what number do you think will show up when you roll the die. 6 was the answer from about 80% of them (which I knew was wrong – so I was feeling very smart).

Then he had the kids roll the die and he stood up at the front to create a frequency distribution of what was actually rolled. He was all ready for them to see how wrong they were and learn it was just as likely for any of the numbers on the die to be rolled. But as he asked each kid about what they rolled something like 5 out of the first 6 said they rolled a 6. He then modified the exercise a bit and had the kid come up to the front and roll the die on the teachers desk. Then my Dad read the number off the die and wrote on the chart đź™‚

This nice blog post, reminded me of that story: Kids’ misconceptions about numbers — and how they fix them

But there’s a pattern to the second-graders’ responses. Nearly all the kids (93 were tested) understood that 750 was a larger number than 366; they just squeezed too many large numbers on the far-right side of the number line. In fact, their results show more of a logarithmic pattern than the proper linear pattern.

Categories: K-12, Math, quote, Students

Tags: curiouscat, data, engineers, kids, Madison, Math, scientific literacy, statistics, William Hunter

10 Responses to “Playing Dice and Children’s Numeracy”

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December 24th, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

Absolutely great stuff. This is how to engage kids in science. Engage their inquisitive minds. Let them get involved. Let them experiment..

January 1st, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

I write this blog because when I was a kid I was curious and had parents who gave me enough interesting answers and interesting resources to build on that curiosity…

February 19th, 2012 @ 8:24 am

[…] I think. I see, how helpful it is to have a good understanding of numbers. And the costs of not developing a facility with numbers leads to many bad decisions, it seems to […]

September 14th, 2012 @ 1:00 am

Neat to have this with the kids in mind. Engage the mind and produce the great next generation.

November 13th, 2012 @ 5:05 am

[…] William Hunter, my father. Link to paper with Easaw Chacko on Building a Quality Movement within a developing nation, 1972. Developing Childrenâ€™s Numeracy Using Dice […]

March 4th, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

2012 PISA results for the math portion: 1 Singapore, 2 Korea, 3 Japan, 5 Switzerland, 7 Estonia, 8 Finland

March 25th, 2014 @ 5:57 am

The greatest statistical analysis is nothing if it canâ€™t be implemented by people…

January 22nd, 2015 @ 7:04 am

[…] an early age I learned to experiment, appreciate and understand data, respect people and continually improve. These lessons were a natural part of growing up in our […]

July 7th, 2015 @ 5:46 am

[…] My father applied these ideas in our family life and so naturally they formed my way of thinking. At the core was a focus on experimentation and focusing on what was important. It is easy to spend a lot of time on things that really are not that important and questioning if the actions we are taking is really what we should be doing based on the most important aims was a natural part of how we thought growing up. In order to experiment effectively you need to be able to understand data and draw appropriate conclusions (post on an experience with my father as a child: Playing Dice and Childrenâ€™s Numeracy). […]

May 20th, 2016 @ 10:23 am

[…] It is great to get an early start viewing the world systemically and with an understanding of variation. I know, I had such an early start with my father, Bill Hunter. I still remember his lesson to my 2nd grade class on variation taught with each of us rolling dice. […]