M&M Probability Project Due on May 23, 2011

Which M&M color are you most likely to get? If you were to open a bag of Plain M&M's, what color would you most likely get? What color would you least likely get?
Whenever you start to use the words, most likely or least likely, you are talking about probability.

Probability is a number from 0 to 1 indicating the likelihood of an event. There are two kinds of probability.

They are experimental and theoretical probability.

Theoretical probability is when all equally likely outcomes are known.
Theoretical probability can be found by dividing the number of outcomes of an event by the total number possible outcomes.

Experimental probability is found by collecting data or running on experiment.
It is calculated by taking the number of times something happened, divided by total number of tries.

Conducting the Experiment

Because we are not able to count all the different colors of M&M's that were created or will be created, we are not able to calculate the theoretical probability. So instead, we will find the experimental probability.

Take one bag of M&M's. Count the total number in the bag.

Separate the M&M's into each color.
You should have a red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and brown pile.
(If you are using M&M mini's you color piles will be different.)

Count how many M&M's are in each pile.

Remember to organize your data in a table. Which color has the largest quantity?
Which color has the smallest quantity?
Is this what you expected to find? Why or why not?

Calculating probability
Calculate the probability of picking a certain color of M&M for each color category. The probability is found by creating a ratio.
The number of M&M's in a color is placed in the numerator, the total number of M&M's is placed in the denominator. Example: If there are 6 red M&M's and 54 total M&M's. The probability of picking a red M&M is 6/54.

Remember the more likely something is, the closer to 1 the probability will be. What color is most likely? Which one is least likely?
Are there any that are equally likely? (This means the probabilities are the same.)

M&M's probability
Before we said that we could not calculate the theoretical probability for the colors of M&M's because we do not know all the possibilities.

However, because The Mars Candy Company creates the M&M's, they can regulate the amounts of each color of M&M's that are created. They have posted the theoretical probabilities on their wed site, www.mms.com .

Look at their site and find the theoretical probabilities for the type of M&M's you used.

Record the theoretical probabilities on your table.
Convert your fractions into decimals and percentages. Add these values to your table.

Sample Table
This is only a sample table. Yours will look differently. Remember to record all the data you collect.

Round decimals to the nearest hundredths place.

See attached document for sample table.


Write at least a one page paper describing the process you went though, your findings, and reflections on those findings. Answer the following questions in you paper.

  • Compare the theoretical probabilities to the experimental probabilities.
  • Describe any similarities and differences.
  • Justify why you think there are differences and/or similarities.
  • Which do you think is more accurate, theoretical or experimental probability? Why?
  • What could you do to make either of these probabilities more accurate?
  • How would you do this experiment differently?

Presentation of information
Create a bar and circle graph of your experimental probability.

Extra Credit
Display the table, graphs, and reflections on a large poster board.

See attached rubric for scoring and expectations.

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