Sharing Ben Orlin’s Math with Bad Drawings with kids -> talking dice and p-values

A few weeks ago I ran across a copy of  Ben Orlin’s Math with Bad Drawings at a book store:

Last night I asked each kid to pick a chapter in the book to read so that we could talk about those chapters for a project today.

My younger son picked the chapter about dice – hardly a surprise as he’s been fascinated with dice forever! Most of the dice you see in this video can be found at the Dice Lab’s website if you are interested in more information about them. Here’s what my younger son had to say about the chapter and about dice this morning:

My older son picked the chapter on p-values – gulp! This topic is pretty advanced and once that isn’t super easy to explore with kids. But I gave it a shot.

First, here’s what he found interesting:

Next I designed a little experiment on Mathematica. For this experiment I wasn’t using p-values but rather confidence intervals – this was just for simplicity, but was still also not super easy for the boys to understand.

In my experiment, I picked 30 numbers from a normal distribution with mean of 5 and standard deviation of 10, and we looked to see if we could tell (statistically) if the mean of the numbers was greater than 0.

What we found was that roughly 25% of the time, 0 was in the 95% confidence interval of the mean. Also, roughly 2.5% of the time, the lower end of that confidence interval was greater than 5 (so we excluded 5 from the confidence interval roughly 5% of the time!).

Hopefully this little experiment helped the kids understand how you could find “wrong” results every now and then:

I love Ben’s book – definitely a fun read and although it isn’t specifically meant for kids, there are plenty of ideas in the book that can be shared with kids.