Fermi Problems (Prompted by An Actual Letter)
Dear MATHNEXUS,
I am really trying to hit hard on number sense in my class this year. One of my methods is discussions and questions about numbers I feel an educated adult should have a strong grasp of. We have discussed populations starting with our school and building up to the population of the world. We have discussed distances, estimating from my class to the office and distance from Bellingham to Portland. I do not have the students memorize the numbers but I do expect them to be able to give me a reasonable estimate of the population of say Blaine without us ever having discussed it specifically. I guess you get the idea. My question is do you know of any resources (books, websites, etc) that might help me with this?
Thank you for your help
T.E. Acher
Dear T:
Broad estimation problems such as those you are describing are often called Fermi problems, named in honor of the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (19011904). Check out these web sites that contain many interesting Fermi problems:
:
You will find that there is some duplication of problems in these sites. But, they provide a lot of problems...plus some guidelines for their use. Also, some of the problems in the statistics section of this web site (i.e. the one you are on now) also might fit your needs: Statistics Problems is the archive address for these questions. A new one is added each week.
M.N.
