Find the Odds: A Probability Class for Kids

February and March, 2002

Buena Vista School

How do casinos make money? Kids will learn the answer to questions like this in a special after-school math class at Buena Vista School this February and March. Norm Matloff, a Buena Vista parent, will teach the kids the basics of probability. In the end, they should be able to solve problems at a level of sophistication that may surprise their parents and teachers. And their general mathematical powers should be greatly enhanced as well.

Examples will be mainly game-oriented, e.g. dice, cards, Monopoly, etc., but there will be some discussion of various serious applications of probability, such as genetics. Even though only simple arithmetic will be used, the focus will be on real math and thinking -- not rote memorization of formulas. Thus the class should make them stronger mathematicians, with deeper intuition.

Norm is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis. His bio is available at and he may be reached at