Your child’s class is starting a mathematics unit on data analysis and probability. These important branches of mathematics help us make informed decisions in such diverse aspects of everyday life as playing games, making major purchases, voting in elections, and choosing medical treatments. In this unit, your child will: • Gather data by designing and conducting surveys and experiments. • Gather data from databases and electronic media. • Choose and create appropriate graphs for different types of data. • Solve problems based on the information displayed in graphs. • Calculate and compare theoretical and experimental probabilities.
Data analysis and probability are an important part of a student’s mathematical experience. People use their data analysis skills to interpret data displays in the news, in books they read, and at work. Probability is used in playing games as well as in weather reports and many other areas where predictions are used. Here are some suggestions for activities you can do at home with your child: • Draw your child’s attention to survey results you notice in the news. If possible, discuss the wording of the questions. Do they seem designed to gather unbiased results? • Ask your child to find different types of graphs in newspapers, magazines, or on the Internet. Discuss the reasons for presenting data in different ways. • Play games of chance with dice, spinners, or cards. Talk about how probability might affect your game.