# Elementary Probability

• ### Song: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

A song for teaching about the multiplication rule.  Using the popular topic among young adults of relationships, the multiplication principle is memorably illustrated by having Paul Simon's #1 hit song (which states only a half-dozen ways to leave your lover, not 50) revisited to show 50 literal paths for ending a relationship: (5 reasons for the decision) X (5 methods to relay the decision) X  (2 options for handling acquired stuff). The lyrics were written by Larry Lesser from The University of Texas at El Paso to the tune of Simon’s same-titled 1975 song.  The audio recording features vocals by Abeni Merryweather and production by Abeni Merryweather  from UTEP's commercial music program.  The song tied for second place in the 2023 A-mu-sing contest.

The structure of the problem in the song is similar to Exercise 3 in the progressive curriculum sequence outlined in the Spring 2024 Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College article “A Problem-based Curriculum to Develop the Multiplication Principle for Counting”: https://journals.library.columbia.edu/index.php/jmetc/article/view/11949/6300

• ### Poem: Lottery Strategy

This limerick was written April 2021 by Larry Lesser of The University of Texas at El Paso to be used as a vehicle for discussing probabilities and expected values involved in playing a typical pari-mutuel lottery.  The limerick was also published in the June 2021 issue of AmStat News.

This limerick was written in April 2021 by Larry Lesser of The University of Texas at El Paso to be used as a vehicle for discussing Simpson's Paradox.  The limerick was also published in the June 2021 Amstat News.

• ### Poem: Permission to Add; Order to Subtract

A limerick to teach the inclusion-exclusion rule for finding the probability of the union of two events.  The poem was written by Marion D. Cohen from Drexel University and published in the January 2021 issue (vol 11 number 1) of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.

• ### Poem: Permission to Add

A limerick to teach the addition rule for finding the probability of the union of disjoint (mutually exclusive) events.  The limerick was written by Marion D. Cohen from Drexel University and published in the  January 2021 (vol. 11, issue 1) Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.

• ### Cartoon: Launch Risk

A cartoon suitable for use in teaching about risks and the problem with making post hoc comparisons. The cartoon is number 2107 (February, 2019) from the webcomic series at xkcd.com created by Randall Munroe. Free to use in the classroom and on course web sites under a Creative Commons attribution-non-commercial 2.5 license.

• ### Cartoon: Feathered Dinosaur Venn Diagram

A cartoon suitable for use in teaching about Venn Diagrams and the meaning of mutually exclusive events. The cartoon is number 2090 (December, 2018) from the webcomic series at xkcd.com created by Randall Munroe. Free to use in the classroom and on course web sites under a Creative Commons attribution-non-commercial 2.5 license.

• ### Food: The Probability of a Kiss

Summary: Through generating, collecting, displaying, and analyzing data, students are given the opportunity to explore a variety of descriptive statistical techniques and develop an understanding of the distinction between theoretical, subjective, and empirical (or experimental) probabilities. These concepts are developed with activities using Hershey KissesTM and may be extended to introduce the sampling distribution of a sample proportion. The activities are described in M. Richardson and S. Haller. (2002), “What is the Probability of a Kiss? (It's Not What You Think),” Journal of Statistics Education, 10(3), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10691898.2002.11910683

Specifics: The main activity uses Hershey’s Kisses to explore the concept of probability. Three specific sub-activities are performed such as:

1. Students explore the empirical probability that a plain Hershey’s Kiss will land on its flat base when spilled from a cup.
2. Students make predictions about the probability of an almond Hershey’s Kisses landing on its base when spilled from a cup, after having experimented with the plain Kisses.
3. Students explore the properties of the distribution of a sample proportion to see whether the percentages of base landings have a specified distribution and whether they think that the number of Kisses tossed affects the shape or the mean and standard deviation of this distribution.

(Resource photo illustration by Barbara Cohen, 2020; this summary compiled by Bibek Aryal)

• ### Joke: Inequality Language

A joke about the meaning of an inequality symbol like ≤ written in February 2020 by Larry Lesser from The University of Texas at El Paso and Dennis Pearl from Penn State University.

• ### Cartoon: Modified Bayes Theorem

A cartoon suitable for use in teaching about Bayes Theorem (an obvious follow-up exercise is to ask what “P(C)” would have to be to make the “Modified Bayes Theorem” correct). The cartoon is number 2059 (October, 2018) from the webcomic series at xkcd.com created by Randall Munroe. Free to use in the classroom and on course web sites under a creative commons attribution-non-commercial 2.5 license.