FPAT—A Framework for Facilitating the Teaching and Learning of Using Fermi Problems Originating in Mathematics Education Research

Jonas Ärlebäck, Lluís Albarracín

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Enrico Fermi is remembered for his many contributions to theoretical and experimental physics, but from an educational point of view he also popularized the use of the kind of questions we now call “Fermi problems” (or “Fermi questions”). Fermi problems (FPs) are back-of-envelope problems that arose from the need to make order of magnitude calculations, and Fermi himself used them in his own research and physics classes. The procedure proposed by Fermi was to break the original problem down into simpler sub-problems, solve these by making reasonable estimates and educated guesses, and thereby reach a solution to the original question. In the literature, this way of working is known as the “Fermi (estimates) method.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-571
Number of pages3
JournalPhysics Teacher
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2022

Cite this