Fermi Questions

What You Need:

  • Pencil and paper (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Try solving the following “Fermi Questions” with your child. Use paper and pencil only if necessary, but remember, everything should be estimated. Be sure to pick round numbers (1,000 not 1,170)!
    • How many pizza restaurants are in your state?
    • How many cars drive down your street in a day? Year?
    • What is the total amount of time all the students in your school spend studying for tests in one year?
  2. Have your child think up with some of her own “Fermi Questions” and try solving them together.
  3. If possible, try looking up the actual answer to the questions (use the phone book or Internet) and see how close your child’s answer is to the actual answer. Remember, you're looking for order of magnitude, not exact numbers!

The great thing about Fermi Questions is there are no right answers, only logical answers! By working through Fermi Questions, students develop logic and math skills without the fear of being “wrong.”

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