While poking around our network drives this morning, I stumbled across a great little site for working on probability. One of our 4th grade teachers uses the Internet heavily for lots of math games, science simulations, and other easy ways to connect learning in ways that go beyond the text. He even lets his kids share their discoveries with the rest of the class by putting up links and websites they’ve found in the classes’ shared directory so they all have access to the games or tools. The particular gem I found this morning allows you to create your own virtual 6, 8, 10, or 12 sided dice.
Of course, if you don’t want to customize your own Virtual Dice, you can simply roll one of the four numbered virtual die. Each dice opens up in a small little window, and simply clicking on it will produce a random number. Since it’s in a small window, once you have it up you can close or minimize the rest of the website, so you can roll without a lot of clutter on the screen, or in case you’re working on putting numbers into a spreadsheet for graphing probability or some other purpose. What’s really nice is that you don’t just have to stick with numbers. By clicking the little Customise link(yes, yes, I know the “s” is there, it’s a British site), you can replace the numbers with colors, names of shapes, or any other word or symbol on the keyboard. While there is a limit (no more than 5 characters), it’s still possible to abbreviate longer words and produce a useful probability cube for any number of projects.
You could simulate pulling different color M&Ms from a bag, or just use the dice to determine who does what daily or weekly classroom duties. Or create a probability station, in which students use the Virtual Dice in conjunction with a pencil and paper activity without having to have real dice being flung around a desk or possibly the room. The possibilities are most probably…limitless 😀