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Math Fun with Card Tricks, TV Game Shows and M&Ms

Math Fun with Card Tricks, TV Game Shows and M&Ms

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Math Fun with Card Tricks, TV Game Shows and M&Ms

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  1. Math Fun with Card Tricks, TV Game Shows and M&Ms Dr. Michelle Norris and Gladis Quintana Sacramento State University Department of Mathematics and Statistics

  2. Introductions • Dr. Michelle Norris • You can call me Dr. Michelle • I’ve been a mathematics professor at Sacramento State since 2008, and I love my job! • Education: BA Math 1992, MA Math 1995, Ph. D. Statistics 2008

  3. What I do at work • Teaching – preparing lectures, grading, making tests and homework • Helping students during my office hours • Statistical consulting – helping people who do research figure out how to analyze their data. Areas I’ve worked in: geology, veterinary medicine, parapsychology, surveys • Working on the computer

  4. Introductions • Gladis Quintana, AKA Miss Gladis

  5. Ice Breaker • Listen for the group I will assign you to. • Gather together with your group. • Find 10 things everyone in your group have in common and write them down • Don’t list body part or clothes – everyone has legs, arms,etc and wears shoes, pants, etc • Hobbies, favorite foods, favorite TV shows, sports you like to play, favorite colors..

  6. Brain Teaser • You will be given 12 toothpicks. You need to make corrals to enclose 6 farm animals. Each animal must have its own corral and be fully enclosed. Is this possible? (You aren’t allowed to break the toothpicks and toothpicks must be placed end-to-end.)

  7. Card Trick • I will demonstrate a card trick • Pay attention and try to figure out why the trick works

  8. Try the Card Trick • Student 1picks out 3 cards, writes them down, keeps them • With remaining cards, student 2 makes stacks of 14,15,15 and 5 cards from left to right (face down) • Student 1 places one card on the stack of 14, cuts the next stack to stack 1 and places the next card on stack 2. Then cuts stack 3 to stack 2 and puts the last card on stack 3 • Student 2 stacks rightmost pile on top of 2nd to rightmost pile, and continues this stacking to the left • Student 2 divides card – up, down, up, down… • Keep dividing “down” pile until there are 3 cards left

  9. Why does the card trick work? • Give hints. • BUY MORE DECKS OF CARDS, TAKE OUT JOKERS

  10. Coin trick • Toss 5 coins. While the magician is looking away • flip as many pairs of coins as you want • cover any single coin with your hand • I will guess the covered coin • Try to figure out why it works • You try the coin trick in pairs.

  11. The Monty Hall Problem • From the game show Let’s Make a Deal which aired in the 1970’s • DEMO • Is it better to switch doors or stay with the original door chosen?

  12. Play the Monte Hall Game • We will play the game to see which strategy is better • Choose a volunteer to play •

  13. The Monty Hall Game • Collect all results. • Which strategy seems to work better? • What is the probability of winning under each strategy?

  14. The Monty Hall Controversy From Wikipedia • “It [the Monty Hall Problem] became famous as a question from a reader's letter quoted in Marilyn vos Savant's "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade magazine in 1990 (vos Savant 1990a). VosSavant's response was that the contestant should switch to the other door. (vos Savant 1990a)” • “Many readers of vos Savant's column refused to believe switching is beneficial despite her explanation. After the problem appeared in Parade, approximately 10,000 readers, including nearly 1,000 with PhDs, wrote to the magazine, most of them claiming vos Savant was wrong (Tierney 1991). Even when given explanations, simulations, and formal mathematical proofs, many people still do not accept that switching is the best strategy (vos Savant 1991a). Paul Erdős, one of the most prolific mathematicians in history, remained unconvinced until he was shown a computer simulation confirming the predicted result (Vazsonyi 1999).”

  15. What Proportion of M&Ms are Blue? • What can a sample of M&Ms tell us about the proportion of blue M&Ms in all M&Ms made? • Pour 25 M&Ms from your bag of M&Ms. • Count the number of blue M&Ms • Calculate the percent of blue M&Ms in your sample. • Together we will graph all the proportions obtain by everyone.

  16. Blue M&Ms • What interesting features does the graph have? • If you had to guess the actual percent of blue M&Ms from the graph, what would you guess? • Mathematics tells us that most proportions will fall within of the center of the distribution. Does this rule work here? • So if we sample 100 M&Ms, most proportions will fall with _____ of the center.

  17. Blue M&Ms • The truth: 24% of all plain M&Ms are blue.

  18. Conclusions • Thank you for coming! • If you have questions about a career in mathematics or statistics or just curiosity about some math/stat question. • You can contact me at • You can contact Miss Gladisat