Friday, January 15, 2016

How 15 cents was the result of a lot of camaraderie

The opening of this calendar year was a bit of a challenge for us. We experienced some loss with staff members. There was some frustration with the opening institute day. Our wireless network was upgraded, which cause some challenges in connectivity for many staff members. Our ISP had trouble the next day, so the school was not connected and that had its own difficulties. We know there is some more dark days on the horizon, but for 78 members of our faculty and staff, we found a way to laugh, smile, and bond. What could be the beacon of hope amid these dark times? A shiny dime and nickel.

How can $.15 bring happiness? Because it was a group of 78 people who came together with a dream...a dream of winning $1.5 Billion in the most recent PowerBall. For the mere investment of $2, 78 people came together to discuss dreams of philanthropy and easier living; whom they would help and how they would do it. We discussed what the money could do for our families and our dream fulfillment. Most importantly, it tied 78 people together for all different aspects of the building (teachers, admin, custodians, IAs, and even a visiting consultant) for a few days of dreaming.

The Rocket Billionaire Project, as we were known, shared different ideas about the odds in winning, placing them in context, discussing possible curricular ideas, created some trivia questions for students involving math, reasoning, and statistics. We shared investment strategies and discussed how to protect our winnings. We laughed together because we knew that we were not going to win, but we did not want $2 to stand in the way of not being part of the group in the astronomical event that we did win.

One of our teachers described the odds like this: There are C(69,5)*26 or 292,201,338 ways for the balls to land.  That makes the probability of winning the grand prize with one play 0.0000000034.  To get an idea of this task, imagine the following.  Start in Seattle.  Lay a quarter on the highway.  Lay another one right next to the first.  Continue this until you get to New York.  Head south and continue to Miami.  There are now almost 300,000,000 quarters on the ground.  Can you pick the same quarter that the PowerBall Lottery will pick?

Mark Cuban provided us with investment tips:
(1) Hire a tax attorney first.
(2) Don’t take the lump sum. You don’t want to blow it all in one spot.
(3) If you weren’t happy yesterday you won’t be happy tomorrow. It’s money. It’s not happiness.
(4) If you were happy yesterday, you are going to be a lot happier tomorrow. It’s money. Life gets easier when you don’t have to worry about the bills.
(5) Tell all your friends and relatives no. They will ask. Tell them no. If you are close to them, you already know who needs help and what they need. Feel free to help SOME, but talk to your accountant before you do anything and remember this, no one needs 1m dollars for anything. No one needs 100k for anything. Anyone who asks is not your friend.
(6) You don’t become a smart investor when you win the lottery. Don’t make investments. You can put it in the bank and live comfortably. Forever. You will sleep a lot better knowing you won’t lose money.
We even shared events that are LESS likely to happen than us winning:

Source for these fun facts

An asteroid destroying your home
When an asteroid passed within 17,200 miles of Earth in 2012, the real estate blog Movoto calculated the odds of an asteroid actually destroying your home. If you have a 1,600 square-foot house, for example, your odds were 1 in 3.4 trillion, give or take.

Filling out a perfect March Madness bracket
Duke math professor Jonathan Mattingly put the odds of a perfect bracket at 1 in 2.4 trillion. And even that’s a generous estimate, since he took seeding odds into account — like the fact that a 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed. A DePaul professor calculated the odds to be one in 128 billion. If you went with a truly random approach, the odds are more than 1 in 9 quintillion (one followed by 18 zeroes). Any way you slice it, you’re much more likely to win the Powerball. (So, maybe make up for the money you’ve wasted on Powerball by staying out of the March Madness pools?)

Shuffling cards in order
Assuming a truly random shuffle, the chances that a full deck of cards ends up in perfect order and suit — spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs — are 1 in 1-to-the-power-of-68. (Which is to say, 1 with 68 zeroes behind it.) That’s “roughly equal to the number of atoms in our galaxy,” according to Focus magazine.

Your existence
OK, this one is a bit of a stretch, but bear with us. Dr. Ali Binazir, who studies and writes about love and relationships, attempted to calculate the odds that you came to be. As explained in a blog post on Harvard University’s website, he took into account your parents meeting and having kids together; the exact sperm meeting the exact egg; and then that happening for their parents, and their parents and so on back to the beginning of human history about 3 million years ago. The odds he came up with? 1 in 10-to-the-power-of-2,685,000 (10 with 2,685,000 zeroes behind it). So really, you’ve won the lottery already — many, many times over.

When all was said and done, the group won a WHOPPING $12 which translates into an amazing 15.3 cents per person. We all laughed about the enjoyment we had, what we will do with our winnings, and how if we got together with 3 of our friends, we could share a cup of coffee from our vending machine. Most people donated their winnings to our media center to pay for student book fines...their way of paying it forward.

Sometimes we need to take the time to recognize the fun that we can have when we come together with a common goal. We can take this momentum and translate it into more academic pursuits for the students. Even with the challenges we  had to start the year, we had a lot of laughs and became a little closer as a faculty and family.

Plus, we each won $.15!

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