alice in summerland

learning and teaching math in alice

Gamblers in training

Middle schoolers can now gamble legally in the world of Alice.

I think it could be cool to make a series of worlds/tutorials relating to casino games in order to teach basic probability concepts. Many people may not enjoy math, but everyone likes to gamble! When I was in first grade, we did an experiment where we rolled a 6-sided die several times and filled out a chart keeping track of the numbers of times each face came up, and my parents found me playing that game by myself the next morning at 6 a.m. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the underlying probabilities integral to these games. Perhaps I’m an extreme case, but this might be appropriately generalized to a lesser extent. In my statistics classes, I’ve also noticed that attention increases and people have more fun when playing these dice and cards games. Why not make them in Alice so rolls can be completely random, and a craps table can be provided for free?

The player won the game of craps because he rolled a 7 on a pass line bet.

Since Alice’s library didn’t have dice, I spent an hour creating two of them from box and circle shapes, and made sure to save the world as a template for other dice games I’ll want to make in the future without recreating the dice. If Alice had dice in the object gallery, not only would I save time but I would also easily be able to keep track of which face is up (still haven’t figured this out–currently the computer prompts the user to enter the sum of the two faces). Then, I searched online for common dice games used to teach probability, and found the game craps, a game I remember discussing and playing several times in a couple of my high school (and maybe middle school, can’t remember) math and statistics classes. This game can be complicated since there are so many possible bets, but in my Alice world I’ve decided to just introduce and use a few of them, starting with the pass line bet (two dice are rolled, you win if you roll a 2, 3, or 12 and lose if you roll a 7 or 11). I’ll work on some other bets tomorrow, and maybe some more games too.

For more ideas of probability games and basic concepts, I emailed my AP Statistics and Math 135 teachers. Still waiting for a response, but my Stat teacher will probably suggest craps, since we played that a lot in class and he used the concepts a lot on tests, and probably some other games as well. I just want to make sure I’m on the right track in terms of choosing the right games and ideas, ones that would appeal to math teachers. To get students to use my programs/tutorials, I need to first appeal to their math teachers.

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