Category: Probability / Statistics


In a class of 23 students, the chances are fifty-fifty that two of them will have the same birthday. Now that may sound impossible since there are 365 different possibilities, but we can use probability to see that it is true.

Probability: Flipping a Coin

That probability is multiplicative is not an easy concept for many of us. Using the spreadsheet with our ability to make tables and to cut and paste can make this important concept much more transparent. We look forward to your thoughts about what we have done.


You just won the Lottery worth $600,000,000. You have a choice between taking it as a lump sum of $376.9 million or in yearly payments of $20,000,000/year for 30 years. Which should you choose? You will build a simulator of your payouts and you can decide yourself which plan is best for you. And yes there really was a Powerball lottery worth that much.

Hit Streak

In 1941, Joe DiMaggio got a hit in 56 straight games. This record has never been beaten. Some say it is the greatest record in all of sports. You can develop a simulation of DiMaggio’s streak to see why it is considered so difficult to beat. And you can decide for yourself whether you think this is the greatest record in all of sports and one that can never be beaten. This fascinating Lab will involve you in probability, random number generation, and some very interesting spreadsheet rules.

Pascal’s Triangle

Another famous pattern, Pascal’s triangle, is easy to construct and explore on spreadsheets. Create a formula for any cell that adds the two cells in a row (horizontal) above it. This pattern is like Fibonacci’s in that both are the addition of two cells, but Pascal’s is spatially different and produces extraordinary results. Pascal’’ triangle is related to an amazing variety of mathematics, things like Fibonacci’s sequences, the triangular numbers, the powers of 2, the binomial theorem, the Bell curve, and more, so much more. We invite you to explore!