In my Finite Math course* almost every section includes a part where students have to create a file (from scratch) in Desmos or in Google Sheets. For example, they use Desmos to plot piecewise linear functions for contextual data and feasible regions in 2D linear programming. They use Sheets to create dynamic tables that model linear cost/revenue situations, solve higher-dimensional linear programming, and create dynamic tables of various savings and loans situations.

After having a very successful semester doing this, I was given the feedback by my fellow faculty members that the course is also supposed to contain a section on basic, discrete probability. In general, I'm okay with this and have already identified the material from the first semester that I'll cut.

But the issue I am having is that I can't think of any good modeling activities in probability where the students build the model in Desmos or Sheets.

There are plenty of pre-built Desmos-based demonstrations of various probability concepts (disqualified because students aren't creating them) and Desmos does a great job working with probability distributions (disqualified because not discrete probability).

Using Sheets instead, the only thing I can think to leverage is the RAND() function to simulate coin flips, etc. This seems like a good way to demonstrate properties of probability (like multiplying probabilities when connected by an AND), but I can't think of any type of situation in probability where I'd turn to Sheets as a problem-solving tool.

So I'm looking for suggestions of problems/scenarios for students in discrete probability where the act of modeling in Sheets or Desmos provides insight into the problem and/or spares algebraic calculation.

(Alternatively, I guess I would accept suggestions of such problems and a different software that is as free and easy to use as Desmos and Sheets.)

(* United States college course aimed mostly at Business Majors too weak to go into Pre-Calculus.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I added the undergraduate education tag; please replace with something else if necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Tommi
    Apr 20, 2023 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


It's pretty cool how the more coin tosses you have, the more the curve looks like a normal curve. And one die versus many dice rolls is also an interesting progression. Is that helpful?


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