The man pictured above is Enrico Fermi. He was an Italian experimental and theoretical physicist.
He was famous for being able to calculate the answers to estimation questions quickly in his head.
Fermi questions can be used in the classrooms to develop thinking skills and to encourage higher ordered thinking above the curriculum.
For instance in a Geography lesson on the water cycle you could ask questions such as:-
- How much water is there on Earth?
- What if there is no water?
- Where does our water come from?
Once children start thinking through these questions they really start to have deep understanding of the topic. Fermi questions are a great way to develop curiosity.
In Maths you could ask questions such as
- How many Maths lessons are taking place in the UK today?
- How long would it take to count to a million?
- How many hairs are there on your are?
Students can also think of their questions.
I also recommend the book “Are you smart enough to work at google?” for a whole host of this type of question. If your school library does not have a copy then ordering one in is a must.