The Chance of Winning the Lottery

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Will your next lottery ticket be the winning ticket? The odds of winning are about 1 in 175 million. But don’t let that discourage you from buying one. Animator Joe Golling created an animation and accompanying inforgraphic for The Lowdown to illuminate the mathematical chance of buying that winning ticket.

What Are Your Odds of Winning the Lottery?What Are Your Odds of Winning the Lottery? By Joe Golling If you gamble on faith - not on odds - you might want to stop reading this now. Because the chances of winning just about any big stakes lottery game - like Mega Millions - is just north of impossible.

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Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to

  • interpret information presented in an infographic
  • use data to create an infographic

Common Core State Standards:6.RP.A.1,6.RP.A.3,6.SP.B.4

Vocabulary: Infographic, scale, metric tons, bar graph

Materials: 11 x 17-inch paper, thin markers, calculators

Preparation: Find examples of infographics to supplement the given asset.


1. Introduction (10 minutes, whole group)

Begin class by showing students the infographic. Tell them that an infographic is a visual way of presenting data, statistics, or other information.

Analyze the infographic together, beginning with the title and working down. (Note: When you get to the mathematical formula, try to allow students time to make sense of it on their own before discussing it.) Ask the following questions:

  • What information does the infographic convey?
  • How does the infographic use graphics to represent information?
  • How do the graphics help you make sense of the data?
  • How does the infographic use descriptive text to explain the issue further?
  • How does the map section help you make sense of the scale of 175 million lottery tickets?
  • Why do you think the author of the infographic added the final three facts about other rare events?

If you have found examples of other infographics, share those with students. Analyze them in a similar fashion.

2. Activity (25 minutes, groups of three)

Tell students that each group will begin developing its own infographic about an issue of interest to them.

All infographics begin with data about an issue. Have groups identify an issue they want to research. Then, allow them to conduct a brief Internet search on the subject. Specific search terms such as “obesity epidemic data” may yield better, more usable results than generic searches. Each group should try to find at least three pieces of data that can help it represent the issue.

If groups cannot identify their own data, some data about recycling and aluminum cans is provided below:

  • The United States generated close to 2 million tons of aluminum containers and packaging in 2011. (Source: EPA)
  • In 2011, 55% of aluminum cans generated, or roughly 0.7 million tons, were recycled. (EPA)
  • Aluminum cans can be converted into other aluminum cans in as few as 60 days. (Source: Aluminum Association)
  • There is no limit to the number of times a can made of aluminum can be recycled. (AA)
  • In 1972, 24,000 metric tons of used aluminum beverage cans were recycled. By 2006, this number increased to more than 525,000 metric tons. (AA)
  • It takes about 33 twelve-ounce aluminum cans to make a pound of aluminum.

Groups should use the following questions as guides:

  • What story does the data tell?
  • What types of graphics can help tell the story of the data?
  • How can narrative text and images help explain the issue?

After discussing the data, groups should draft their infographics on 11 x 17-inch paper. Consult with each group to help them understand different ways in which they can express the data that they found. For example, to represent the percentage of recycled cans in the recycling data set, students could draw 100 small circles and fill in 55 of them. To express the growth of recycling since 1972, students could create a simple bar graph.

3. Conclusion (5 minutes, whole group)

At the end of class, have each group share their preliminary work. Each group should describe how its graphic helps explain the issue that it chose.


Activity Extension

For students who are interested in pursuing a more polished look for their infographics, a variety of tools can be found online using the search term:"create your own educational infographics."