IB seniors present theses to peers, critics

Published 8:49 pm Monday, November 28, 2011

Trevor Hall, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at King’s Fork High School, gives a PowerPoint presentation Monday on his extended essay, in which he figured out the probability of attaining a royal flush in a five-man game of Texas Hold’em.

Four International Baccalaureate students got the chance to exhibit the hard work they put into their senior theses in a presentation to their peers and a panel of critics.

The King’s Fork High School students — Trevor Hall, Craig Hardman, Ravynn Stringfield and Andrew Stockman — were selected from a group of the 16 seniors in the IB program to give PowerPoint presentations of their extended essays in the Viva Voce program on Monday in front of the ninth, 10th and 11th grade IB students and the panel.

To receive an IB diploma, IB students are required to complete an extended essay in which they analyze a topic of their choice.

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“When (the seniors) did their presentations in Theory of Knowledge class, these four presentations were the most interesting and well-prepared,” said Carol Kennedy-Dickens, the IB program coordinator.

The students’ presentations covered mathematics, religion, history and psychology.

Trevor Hall was inspired by his love of math and fondness for the game of poker to develop the question for his extended essay — What is the probability of attaining a royal flush in a five-man game of Texas Hold’em?

“I wanted to find out how math related to poker,” he said. “I focused on two forms of poker in my paper — draw and Texas Hold’em.”

To find his answer, Hall said, he developed a base formula for probability and then adjusted it to fit the different possibilities a player has in the game.

He ended up with 21 formulas, and by plugging in numbers, he found the probability of getting a royal flush in the game is one in 312,550.

Hall said he also figured out the odds of getting the hand in Texas Hold’em are much better than in draw poker, which surprised him.

“It’s easier to get a royal flush in Texas Hold’em because you have two junk cards,” he said.

The three other students’ questions were:

  • To what extent do Creationism and evolution agree?
  • Was Mozart’s musical ability based on genetics or the musical environment in which he was raised?
  • To what extent did Operation Barbarossa cause the downfall of Nazi Germany in World War II?

This is the first year King’s Fork students have presented for the program Viva Voce, which roughly translates to “giving voice to your work.”

Kennedy-Dickens said the IB program encourages students to make the presentations to practice their public speaking skills and share their work while showing the other IB students what will be required of them as seniors.

After the presentations, a panel of assessors analyzed and criticized the students’ presentations and gave them feedback on how to improve.

“We criticize them so they will have the information for future presentations for college,” Kennedy-Dickens said. “I think they did fabulous.”