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Amazing Octopus Math Activity: Octopus Probability

Octopuses are seriously cool critters with neat tricks like changing color in the blink of an eye and solving problems that are even difficult for humans to figure out! Through exciting games and other challenges in this octopus math activity, students will learn about probability and other ways that octopuses use problem solving and calculations in their daily lives. In the end, this was one of my students’ favorite octopus STEM activities!

Dive into the deep sea with octopus math activity Probability, an engaging activity for kids.

Octopus Math Activity Probability Challenge

In this octopus math activity, students will roll dice, pull cards, flip coins, and discuss what could happen in cool scenarios inspired by our friend the octopus. But it’s not just about octopus math, it’s also about learning some of the amazing things an octopus can do!

Can an Octopus do Math?

Can an octopus do math like a human?

Octopuses are really smart, but they can’t technically do math like we can (at least in our current scientific understanding). They don’t add, subtract, multiply, or divide. They don’t understand numbers and equations like we do.

However, since an octopus has 9 brains, they can definitely use math skills!

Octopuses can learn patterns, find solutions, problem solve, create 3D structures, and even make probability calculations while searching for food and escaping predators.

STEM extension worksheets

Octopus Intelligence Experiment

Octopuses are known for their impressive cognitive abilities, and a variety of experiments have been designed to study these capabilities.

The most famous octopus intelligence experiment is the jar opening experiment.

In this experiment, a small octopus is presented with a clear, screw-top jar containing a tasty crab inside.

Over time, and sometimes quite quickly, the octopus learns to unscrew the lid to get to the crab.

Some octopuses have even been observed re-sealing the jar after they’ve captured their prey, showing a surprising degree of foresight and understanding.

Octopus Books for the Classroom

Here are some of our favorite non-fiction octopus books for kids to learn more fun facts about octopuses!

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Click on each book cover to learn more and order for your students!

This experiment has been conducted with various species of octopuses and often forms part of aquarium displays due to the impressive problem-solving abilities it showcases.

The jar-opening experiment is just one of many that highlight the advanced learning capabilities of octopuses, and others have shown their ability to navigate mazes, recognize individual humans, and use tools, further contributing to our understanding of octopus intelligence.

You can watch an octopus get a crab out of a jar in the video below:

In another experiment, an octopus named Paul correctly guessed the winner of a sporting match over 8 times in a row!

How Does an Octopus Use Math in the Oc

Octopuses are some of the smartest creatures on the planet! Here are some ways that octopuses use math and probability calculations in their everyday lives.

Camouflage Craziness

Octopuses are the ultimate hide-and-seek champions, thanks to their amazing camouflage skills.

What factors might influence an octopus’s choice of camouflage, like their surroundings’ colors and patterns? Then guess the likelihood of an octopus picking the best camouflage for its environment.

Hunting Hijinks

Octopuses are pretty good at catching their dinner with their tentacles.

Calculate the chances of an octopus successfully catching its meal, considering things like how far away the prey is, how fast it’s moving, and its size.

Create different hunting scenarios and work out the probability of success.

Octopus Lesson Resources

Use these octopus classroom supplies and products to go along with your octopus STEM lessons!

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clixo octopus
diy paper octopus origami puzzle
octopus fidgets
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Click on each image to purchase these octopus supplies for your classroom!

If you need more inspiration for your octopus lessons, check out these octopus lesson plans!

Defense Dilemmas

Octopuses have lots of ways to protect themselves, like releasing ink or changing their shape.

Uncover chance of an octopus using a particular defense tactic when faced with different threats.

Baby Boom

How likely is it for an octopus to have successful mating encounters?

What are the chances for the baby octopuses to survive?

Explore different octopus species’ strategies to guess the likelihood of successful reproduction in different circumstances.

Octopus Problem Solving

Octopuses live in specific parts of the ocean. What are the odds of finding octopuses in different habitats, considering things like water temperature, depth, and food availability?

With our super fun octopus math activity, students will dive deep into the world of probability! Not only that, but we'll also explore how these awesome eight-armed creatures use their wits and problem-solving skills to calculate their way through their underwater lives!

Probability Octopus Math Activity STEM Extensions

Here are some other STEM extensions you can explore while doing your octopus math activity!

Scientific Sleuthing

Explore how octopuses adapt their camouflage to different environments, study their anatomy, and discover their role in the ocean’s food web.

Tech Time

Dive into the world of underwater robots that study marine life and learn about remote sensing technology that monitors octopus habitats.

Octopus STEM Kits

These octopus STEM kits teach kids how different parts of an octopus works and offer another fun hands-on octopus STEM activity for kids to learn about the amazing octopus!

clixo octopus
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Click on each image to learn more about the octopus STEM kit and order it for your students.

If you need even more extensions for your octopus STEM activities, check out these octopus lesson plans!


Create models of octopus habitats using recyclable materials and challenge students to think of ways to protect the marine environment and conserve octopus habitats.

Math Magic

Collect and interpret data on octopus behavior and habitat conditions. Analyze and graph the data to identify patterns as another octopus math activity.

STEM extension worksheets

More Octopus STEM Activities

There are so many things you can learn with an octopus as your guide! Here are some other fun octopus STEM activities.

Octopus Shirts for Teachers

Check out these super fun octopus shirts you can wear during your octopus lessons!

octopi shirt
octopus teacher shirt ocean of possibilities
octopus shirt
octopus book shirt
cute octopus shirt
valentine octopus shirt
i wish i was an octopus shirt
cephalopods shirt
Click on each image to order your octopus teacher shirt!

Octopus Math Activity Lesson Plan

Get a complete printable octopus math activity lesson plan on probability below!

By mixing science, technology, engineering, and math, we’ll understand octopus biology and behavior better while developing key research, problem-solving, and math skills.

Octopus Probability Lesson Plan

Octopus Probability Lesson Plan

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: medium

Octopuses are remarkable creatures with an impressive range of behavioral and problem-solving skills. While it's not entirely accurate to say they "predict patterns" in the way that humans can, humans are still learning a lot about how the octopus brain works, and it may be possible that octopuses do a lot more math than we realize!

In this probability octopus math activity, students will use octopuses as the inspiration for running their own probability calculations and predictions.


  • paper
  • coin
  • marker
  • notebook
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • dice
  • cards



Octopus Math Activity Probability Lesson Objective

Students will explore the concept of probability through interactive activities and games centered around octopuses. They will develop an understanding of basic probability concepts, such as outcomes, events, and chances, while enhancing critical thinking, communication, and logical reasoning skills.

Pre-Activity Prep

Cut two octopuses out of paper- one for each “heads” guess and one for each “tails” guess. Make 2 octopuses per student group.5C1AEC54 559B 49B7 85D9 D92E6CB51259 scaled

Octopus Probability Lesson Plan

Divide students into small groups of 4-5 and provide each group with dice, a coin, and cards. Emphasize the importance of teamwork and communication in understanding probability. Encourage students to discuss their reasoning with their group members and come to a consensus on their answers.

Octopus Math Background

The octopus famous for predicting the outcomes of football matches is Paul the Octopus. Paul lived in a sea life center in Oberhausen, Germany, and gained international fame during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

For each match, Paul's caretakers would present him with two boxes containing food. Each box was marked with the flag of a national football team, one for each team playing in an upcoming match. The box Paul chose to eat from first was considered his prediction for the winner of the game.

Remarkably, Paul's "predictions" were correct for all seven of Germany's matches in the tournament, as well as the final match between Spain and the Netherlands, which Spain won. His success made headlines around the world, although it's important to remember that Paul was not consciously predicting the outcomes of the matches.

Octopuses exhibit behaviors that suggest a basic understanding of cause and effect, which is loosely related to the concept of probability.

Octopuses are highly intelligent creatures and exhibit sophisticated problem-solving and decision-making ability in response to environmental cues. While an octopus cannot run mathematical probability calculations in the way that a human can (at least from our understanding of how an octopus brain works), octopuses, rely on evolved behaviors, learned experiences, and environmental cues to guide their actions and used these external influences to run internal, subconscious probability calculations.

Activity 1: Coin Flip Probability

Have the students guess how many times in 100 coin flips the answer will be heads or tails.

136DA6B8 7F2E 464B A5C6 A08948F3E06B scaledFlip the coin 100 times and record how many times each coin landed on heads or tails. Single coin toss probability = number of favorable outcomes/2 (possible outcomes).

Activity 2: Dice Probability

Instruct students to take turns rolling the dice and recording the outcomes. Guide them in identifying the different possible outcomes and discussing the chances of each outcome occurring. Dice probability- number of favorable outcomes/6 (possible outcomes).90400AB6 ADCF 4B9E A100 8B601C1AC272 scaled

Activity 3: Card Probability

Have students calculate the probability of pulling a certain card suit, a certain card color, and a certain card face value.Have the students calculate the exact probability and record the results from 52 card pulls from a deck of cards.

Class Discussion

Lead a class discussion to share and compare the students' predictions and conclusions from the activities.
Highlight the connections between probability and real-life situations, emphasizing the usefulness of probability skills in decision-making.75504597 D46E 451F A3DB 13C2B7BE1ED7 scaled

Activity Assessment

Observe students' participation and engagement during the activities.
Review students' worksheets or graphic organizers to assess their understanding of probability concepts. Evaluate students' ability to communicate and explain their reasoning during group discussions.


Extension Activities:

As an extension, students can conduct simple experiments or observations related to octopus biology and behavior, such as observing octopus camouflage or investigating their preferred habitats.
Introduce students to technology used in studying marine life, such as underwater robotics or virtual reality experiences. Discuss the role of technology in scientific research and exploration.

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