Fermi Estimates

This MEI activity features a number of worked examples of questions that can be tackled using the process of Fermi estimation. The questions provide further and more in-depth exemplifications of the approaches introduced in the MEI task ‘Making estimates from limited data’, which is also suitable for Core Maths students.

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Mathematical Strand

Number and Measure

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Prior Knowledge

This task should be accessible to all Core Maths students. You may choose to introduce the topic using the MEI activity ‘Making estimates from limited data’.

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Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

AQA
C&G
Eduqas
Pearson / Edexcel
OCR

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Suggested Approaches

The activity is quite self-contained, with the combined teacher/student sheet providing both a selection of suitable questions and a detailed commentary showing how each of the questions could be introduced by the teacher and tackled by the students.

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Resources/documentation

The activity is provided as a single document containing Teacher notes with example questions embedded throughout. The questions are also collated into a Student sheet at the end of the resource.

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Relevant digital technologies

Students could use spreadsheets to explore the effect of varying the estimated values used in calculations; the resource provides examples of how this could be done.

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Possible extensions

The resource provides suggestions for websites where further examples of Fermi estimation questions can be found.

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Acknowledgement

Developed by MEI, with funding from the Department for Education as part of the Critical Maths project to develop a post-16 mathematical thinking curriculum based on ideas from Professor Sir Timothy Gowers  -  http://www.mei.org.uk/critical-maths