We spent the day prepping for an interview with Google or at least answeriing the same types of lateral thinking questions Google famously asks in their interviews. Students were asked to estimate the number of piano tuners living in New York City.
This question is an exercise in estimation known as a Fermi question. The famous Italian physicist Enrico Fermi was natoriously good at such off the wall estimations (hence the name).
Students are given no information or resources and expext to generate an answer accurate to one order-of-magnitude but the answer they produce is much less important than their thought process. Students must chose the appropriate estimations to make and then execute those estimations somewhat accurately. If they can defend their reasoning, logic, and estimations I am happy.
After large group discussion of the piano tuners problem(and only a little prodding frrom me) students settle on a number between 400-700 tuners in NYC.
Finally, groups are given another Fermi question to help hone their estimation skills. Their work is posted below:
Feel free to question their logic, if you can read it.