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Presentation 6G2. Teaching Probability and Statistics to 10 Years Old Children

Marie Berrondo-Agrell (France)


Presentation Abstract
The Bilingual School EAB in Paris offered me to present PROBABILITY and STATISTICS to a group of ten 10-years old children, as a pedagogical experiment. The course lasted one hour per week, from October 1999 to June 2000. The children who had chosen this activity were usually good in math. (The other were not interested in applying).

The INTRODUCTORY PART of our program was intended to make children enjoy probability, while demonstrating continuity with what they already knew in math. FUNNY ARITHMETIC seemed quite suitable, as for example the fingers-multiplication by 9.

At this age, proof has to be done through images. It is then necessary to show children that drawings are also a form of mathematics, not only through geometrical analyzes but also through Graph Theory. This is why GRAPH THEORY was the SECOND PART of our program, presented of course in a simplified vocabulary that children can understand.

The THIRD PART of our teaching involved the main operations of BOOLEAN ALGEBRA. We use classical Venn Diagrams to define set operations, and the relation of complementarity. All this is done with the help of a "BOOLEAN BINGO".

The FOURTH PART of our teaching introduced a MEASUREMENT. We chose the simplest example: AREA. We presented the ideas of Area (A U B) = Area (A) + Area (B) - Area (A Ç B) And Area ( Æ ) = 0 through amusing exercises.

In the FIFTH PART of our teaching, we dealt with A REAL PROBABILISTIC EXPERIMENT, THROWING 3 COINS and counting how many heads we got each time. We then compared the empiric bar-graph to the deeply explained theoretical probabilities. The similarity between them stroke the children.

ANOTHER PROBABILISTIC EXPERIMENT will make THE SIXTH PART of the PROGRAM. We threw 2 DICE, writing carefully the biggest result, the smallest one and the sum of the two. Then we compared couples of bar-graphs (empirical and theoretical after precise explanations). The similarities will strike again the children, which allow us to talk about INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM and GROUP PREVISION, about STATISTICS and PROBABILITIES.

THE LAST PART OF OUR TEACHING PROGRAM was the presentation of 3 GAMES TO WIN CHEWING-GUMS, IMAGES, SWEETS OR COOKIES. The aim was just to play with somebody who had not followed our course and to play many times. Then, the children really became enthusiastic ...

As a conclusion after this experience, we hope that the children will consider probability, more as fun activity, rather than being afraid of learning by heart strange formulae. We also expect that they got a deep feeling of risk, by understanding the links between probability and statistics. This should be an important part of wisdom, in the line of Borel's ideas.


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