# Probability Calculator 1.0

## An Educational Tool for Exploring Probabilities of Finite Processes

H442 - Educational Applications of Multimedia: A Software Design Laboratory
Instructor: Carol Chomsky
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Fall 1994-95

## Modelling Probabilities...

Using Probability Calculator 1.0, students fill a container with up to thirty-six balls of eight different colors as shown above. In the main window (figure below), students can then explore the probability of randomly selecting any specified sample of balls from the container.

The container can be configured to model various scenarios. For example, a student might choose to simulate a set of particle states or coin faces. The Examples menu above contains several examples to help get students started with the program. Current choices include a die, a coin, and a popular lottery configuration.

Probability Calculator 1.0 is an educational tool intended for people of any age. It was written mainly to help students develop an intuitive understanding of simple, finite probability theory. Used with an overhead projector, it can also serve as an instructional aid to facilitate probability exploration in the classroom.

Probability Calculator negates the easy, yet time-comsuming task of plugging large numbers into formulas. It reinforces the more important, more difficult task at hand; Students are free to explore probability theory alone, without being bogged down with tedious multiplications and fraction reductions. A student's ability to translate a variety of probability scenarios into the sampling model presented here demonstrates a solid understanding of simple finite probability.

Probability Calculator allows for both ordered and unordered samples. Students must also specify whether to select their samples with replacement (balls in the sample also remain in the container) or without replacement (each sampled ball is removed from the container) as shown in the uppermost dialog box, above.

## The Author

I graduated in 1996 with an Ed.M. in Harvard Graduate School of Education. Probability Calculator 1.0 was my final project for Carol Chomsky's course entitled "Educational Applications of Multimedia: A Software Design Laboratory." If you would like a copy of the program, or if you have any questions, suggestions, comments, or bug reports for me, please call or send me email at debi@mit.edu.

-Deborah Fuchs