About That Powerball Meme...

I'm sure you've seen the meme concerning the ever-increasing Powerball winnings. It looks something like this:
Unfortunately, the math is not great. It should look something like this:
     So, yeah, even if the most generous person in America won the Powerball AND decided to share it, we're not going to be significantly better off. 

     We can, however, be Powerball "winners" if we use it for some great learning opportunities. Here are some ideas I had while pondering what I'd do with my $4.39:

1) Challenge your students to consider how many people the Power Ball money could be spread across to really impact their lives. Just how much money would significantly change a person's life? $4.39? $43.90? $439?  It's a great mathematical conversation, and being all opinion, you can't really be wrong.  This could be a great partner/small group conversation, especially with calculators. We're dealing with some really large numbers and that can be a little off-putting for some students. Have them create a final work product for presentation, hard-copy or digital, and you're addressing ELA standards, too.

2)  Have them write about whether they would or would not share it, if they won, and how. There are other ways to share money beside evenly dividing it. Might you donate to large entities for research/treatment for diseases? Might you focus on specific groups, for example, education, homelessness, elderly? What if you invested the money and used the profits to help others? A writing product on this could be a report, a faux newspaper article about someone who actually donated the money, poetry,...the possibilities are endless.

3) Research whether other countries have a lottery and how they manage it. Is it always one big win or do more people have a chance to win smaller amounts? I understand that Spain has more winners of smaller amounts. What do you think about that? Should it be all or none or have more people have a chance of winning?

4) Of course, chance and probability are fascinating for students who are ready for that level of math. What are some events that have the same chance/probability of happening as winning the big Powerball? Being struck by lightening? Being hit by an asteroid? Charming subjects, but they can be interesting to kids!

5) Are there people who actually don't want to win? I'm one of them - for the big Powerball, at least. I can only see that kind of money being a way to destroy all motivation and drive, especially for the young people in your life. Have students survey others about this question, then collect and display the data.  

I hope you win the Powerball! If you don't, do you have additional ideas for at least dreaming big? How are you using this in your classroom?
Pat McFadyen
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