The Story of Mariposa: 0.00962%

Mariposa and I sat at a table.  Between us are 12 cards, all face down, in a 3 x 4 grid.  We’re playing a game of Memory, the newest craze in our classroom.  There is a line of students waiting to play the winner.

“Mariposa, you go first,” I say.

Mariposa smiles, looks down, and turns over a card.  She reveals a picture of a red bubble.  Of the 11 cards left, only one other card is a red bubble.  Mariposa scans the cards.  She picks one.

“Wow! You got it.” I say.

Mariposa smiles, gathers both cards, and places them neatly in a pile next to her.

“Go again.” I say.

Mariposa is already looking at the cards.  She turns one over.  Blue bubble.  She scans, turns, and reveals the other blue bubble card.

“Woah! Two in a row.”  I say.  I pretend to make a pouty face.  Mariposa smiles.

“You’re funny Teacher Gilbert,” Mariposa says.

8 cards left.  Mariposa goes again.  Her hand hovers over the cards.  She turns over two cards, quickly matching the green bubbles. I’m stunned.  I spent 30 seconds mixing the cards before setting up the grid.  Mariposa is laughing.  I make a pouty face and encourage her to go again.

6 cards left.  The smile has not left her face.  She is on fire and, as little as she is, she knows it.  She starts to do a little wiggle dance in her chair.  I can hear her humming a happy tune.  Her hand turns over one card and then another.  Both of them are yellow bubbles.

She’s going to do it… she could win the game in one shot.

4 cards left; pairs of black bubbles and orange bubbles.  Mariposa is beating the odds like crazy.

She looks over the cards, turns one over.  Black bubble.  At this point, she has a 1/3 chance of getting the correct card.  She looks them over. 

She turns over a card….. black bubble.

“Omigosh,” I say.

She puts the pair of black bubbles in her winning pile.  Leaving only two pairs left, the lone orange bubbles.  Mariposa, happy with delight, quickly turns over both cards, stacks them, and puts them in her pile.

Mariposa wins: 12 – 0

I was stunned.  She got all six pairs on one turn.  I turned to my co-teacher.  “Jenny, she got them all right on the first try.”  I would have been amazed if anybody had done what Mariposa just did.

At the end of the day, I’m relaxing at home with my wife.  I tell her what happened with the memory game.

“I’m just thinking, what are the odds of that happening?” I say to Kaitlyn. So, I go online, ask a question on Yahoo, and get a response.

The odds of Mariposa getting six pairs in a row on the first try is 1/10395

“What!!!  Omigosh!!!” I say in my head.

If you want percentage, then the percent chance of Mariposa pulling off her feat is 0.00962%


I got goosebumps.  I called over to Kaitlyn and told her the odds.  She was just as stunned.  It was an amazing feat.  This just goes to show you that you never know how a small child will amaze you.  I was amazed when I saw it happen and appreciated the feat more when I discovered the odds.

The link below is to the yahoo question I posted.  Read the response.  I’m sure you’ll be floored too.;_ylt=AvW4fYp8TJ8qw0nTAmFxnkXsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20130122150608AAIvMtR

And, if you would like to play the bubble game yourself, here’s a link to the pdf file.  Enjoy.


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