Well, it appears that we beat the odds this year when it comes to Rolling Up the Rim to Win. By "we", I mean the lucky friends of mine. Not only are they lucky to have me as a friend, who brings them coffee unexpectedly, they also benefitted by winning rims. Out of the 7 coffees/hot beverages I purchased to give to someone else, 3 cups turned out to be winners. (And in case you were wondering, YES, I do give winning rims...I do not expect to have the prize back. My rule is, if the prize is less than $1000, then that's fine. If it's $1000 or more, we'll split it. There. It's in writing for any future instances and legal battles. What's your personal rule when it comes to winning rims on beverages you bought/gifted? Leave your rule by posting a comment below.)
Overall, our win totals were better than the posted odds. Now, honestly, we didn't track this meticulously, as some beverages I bought for others, I didn't follow up on whether or not they were winners. I figured people would tell me if they did win. Which is to say, maybe there were more losing cups than we kept track of. Also, one might say being altruistic leads to a greater winning percentage for the receivers of charity, but then again, isn't the charitable act a win in of itself? One could speculate forever about this, which is the fun of mathematical inquiry and the field of probability and statistics.
Here are the final totals for Spring 2012. This year, Tim Horton's (I refuse to use the public relations and media friendly moniker "Tim Hortons" as it pays little respect to the founder of Tim Horton's and separates the chain's history from the man that started it all, hence, Tim Horton's--or the coffee shop belonging to Tim Horton) claims that the odds are 1 in 6. Let's see about that one...
Drinks for me: 14
Drinks for others: 7
Drinks for me, purchased by others: 2 (Nya:weh, Mr. Sowden)
Total Drinks Purchased: 23
Winning cups for me: 2
Winning cups for others: 3
Winning cups for me, purchased by others: 0
Total Winning Cups: 5
Odds for me: 2 in 14
Odds for others: 3 in 7
Odds for me, purchased by others: 0 for 2
Total odds: 5 in 23.
That's certainly better than 1 in 6! How about that for a deep math problem? Sort these odds using 1 in 6 as the midpoint, where some odds are better and others are worse. Or seeing as it is Stanley Cup playoff time, track odds of winning the cup with actual results by round.
Consider tracking your own purchases but more importantly, discuss and utilize real life instances of probability to enable students to make real life connections to the math they are learning