A Louisiana Lessons Web Activity

in collaboration with the MATH FORUM

Fermi questions receive their name from Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist known for his participation in the Los Alamos atomic bomb project and the development of quantum theory.

Fermi questions emphasize estimation, numerical reasoning, communicating in mathematics, and questioning skills. Students often believe that "word problems" have one exact answer and that the answer is derived in a unique manner. Fermi questions encourage multiple approaches, emphasize process rather than "the answer", and promote non-traditional problem solving strategies.

What and Why of Fermi Questions

Who is Enrico Fermi? What is a Fermi question? Why are Fermi questions useful in the K-12 classroom?

Fermi Questions Library

The Fermi Questions Library features classic Fermi questions with annotated solutions, a list of Fermi questions for use with students, Fermi questions with a Louisiana twist, and Fermi activities for the K-12 classroom.

Contributions to the Fermi Library

Teachers, students, and other interested individuals are encouraged to submit solutions to Fermi Questions posted in the Fermi Library and to submit additional Fermi questions for the library. Selected solutions will be posted online.

Related Internet Resources

Please mail comments and suggestions to
Sheila Talamo
December 1996

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