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Save the Date: Join us in Santa Fe on March 1-2, 2019!
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Friday, March 2 • 10:40am - 11:55am
Fermi Problems for Engagement, Number Sense, and Estimation

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Limited Capacity seats available

A Fermi Problem is a problem that calls for a ballpark estimate, usually in a situation where accurate numbers and measurements are not available. These problems involve quantitative reasoning, strategic thinking, estimation, proportional thinking, understanding inequality, and often scientific notation. Middle School students can be very engaged by these problems, as they imagine large numbers and often involve opportunities to observe and explore the world around them. For example, the Fermi Problem of: "How many ants are there in New Mexico?" might lead students to a solution by way of observing the number of ants in one square foot of the schoolyard.

In this session, you'll have the opportunity to work with your colleagues to solve several Fermi Problems, using hands-on tools and modeling to visualize and discuss the problems. Then, we'll explore and discuss some of the mathematics behind Fermi Problems. What properties of numbers and operations are needed to approach a Fermi Problem? What kinds of visual models can be used to understand very large numbers? How are Fermi Problems related to the Middle School CCSS Math topics? Finally, we'll share our experiences using Fermi Problems with Middle School students. You'll leave with lessons plans that use Fermi problems at the 6th, 7th and 8th grade level, along with guidelines for using them in lessons and in enrichment activities.


Allison Conway

Educator, J. Paul Taylor Academy
I work at a K-8 public charter school in Las Cruces, New Mexico where I am a “math department of one” for our middle school program, teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math classes. I started my career in bilingual education and taught kindergarten for several years in... Read More →
avatar for Ted Stanford

Ted Stanford

Associate Professor, New Mexico State University
I am a topologist by temperament and training, which means I have trouble telling the difference between a donut and a coffee cup, or between a five-dollar bill and a ten-dollar bill. I managed to earn a PhD in 1993, after which I had faculty positions at the University of California... Read More →

Friday March 2, 2018 10:40am - 11:55am
Lamy Santa Fe Community Convention Center

Attendees (27)