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.

Mathematical Strand

Number and Measure

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’.

Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

Pearson / Edexcel

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.


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.

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.

Possible extensions

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


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