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ERIC Number: EJ1036860
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
Extreme Numbers & Estimation Skills
Vinogradova, Natalya
Mathematics Teacher, v107 n3 p195-199 Oct 2013
A critical aspect of mathematics study is developing both understanding of quantities and fluency in manipulating them. These abilities are essential for students who intend to enter technical or scientific professions. All students, however, should be exposed to methods of quantitative reasoning in order to function effectively in today's complex society. To work comfortably with very large and very small numbers, students should be fluent in scientific notation. In addition, good estimation skills are crucial for making meaning of such numbers. This article offers a detailed exploration of some examples that are simple enough to be discussed in any secondary school classroom and yet lead to strikingly unexpected results. The goal is to provide teachers with accessible methods of attracting students' attention to extreme numbers and help them develop their estimation skills. The question and exercises described in this article give students an opportunity to better understand very large and very small numbers. In addition, they provide examples of interesting situations that lead to unexpected results. Working on these examples, students may see that quantitative reasoning can be a reliable tool even when intuition breaks down. The accessible form of these questions provides all students a chance to attempt to develop their numerical fluency--a necessary condition for making well-informed decisions in a world that is overloaded with numerical information.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A