K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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CareerStart lessons: Grade six
This collection of lessons aligns the sixth grade curriculum in math, science, English language arts, and social studies with potential career opportunities.
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  • Biologists: Working with probability: In this lesson for grade six, students will use theoretical probability to predict genetic outcomes, and will understand how mathematical probability is used in biological careers.

Related topics


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Learning outcomes

  • Students will use probability (independent events) to predict the likelihood of occurrence of two unrelated health conditions.
  • Students will understand how math can be applied to careers in medicine.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

Time required for lesson

One class period


  1. This lesson requires that students know some basic background information about certain medical careers. Write the following key terms and definitions on the board, and be sure the students understand them:
    The branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents (from newborn to age 18 or 19).
    The branch of medicine that focuses on health promotion and the prevention and treatment of disease and disability in later life. The term can be distinguished from gerontology, which is the study of the aging process itself. The term comes from the Greek “geros” meaning “old man” and “iatros” meaning “healer.” In the USA, geriatricians are primary care physicians who are board-certified in either Family Practice or Internal Medicine and have also acquired the additional training necessary to obtain the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Geriatric Medicine.
  2. Review independent events with the class.
  3. Conduct a class discussion about the following:
    • Why do health professionals need to know the probabilities mentioned in this lesson?
    • How will this knowledge help them when dealing with patients? Talk about screening for risks and the probability of certain illnesses in reference to age, gender, ethnic group, genetic ties, etc.
  4. Guided practice: Walk students though the example problems on the “Let’s Review” handout.
  5. Independent practice: Have students complete the handout “A Career in the Medical Field Might be Neat!”


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson

Ask Dr. Math: Medicine and Mathematics
Dr. Math covers many ways that mathematics are used in medicine, including administering medicine, probability of disease and infection, survival rates, and more.
Johnnie’s Math Page: Probability
This website offers a variety of interactive math activities designed to help students understand probability, including spinners, dice, coins, graphs, and more.
Probability Games
These games help students explore concepts of probability and include virtual coin flip, dice roll, and more.
Basic Skill Practice Games: Probability
This website hosts 24 different games to help students understand probability.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • Statistics & Probability
          • 7.SP.8Find probabilities of compound events using organized lists, tables, tree diagrams, and simulation. Understand that, just as with simple events, the probability of a compound event is the fraction of outcomes in the sample space for which the compound...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 6

  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and determine probabilities.
    • Objective 4.05: Determine and compare experimental and theoretical probabilities for independent and dependent events.