## Fermi Questions C

Patar Eyevan
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

What is some useful background information for this event?
Know everything about your state such as population and area, or if your state/county is famous for anything lol then know about it. You should also know stuff about the US, distance from sun to earth/earth to moon, depth of ocean, etc general stuff. If you want to be efficient, then I recommend you memorize some conversions such as converting cubic miles to km etc. and stuff such as how many seconds are in a year, which would save a lot of time. I think its something like 3.15 x 10^7 seconds/year? lol
First year doing sci oly... so fun
Regionals 2012:
Fermi Questions: 1st
Water Quality: 2nd
Microbe Mission: 3rd

State 2012:
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Microbe Mission: 2nd

Phenylethylamine
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

What is some useful background information for this event?
Know everything about your state such as population and area, or if your state/county is famous for anything lol then know about it.
Have you seen a lot of specific questions about states/counties? I've been practicing off old National tests, so I wouldn't know...

In any case, I'd say to know all the dimensions of the Earth off the top of your head, and I second the conversion factors thing (especially since you'll often have to switch from metric to standard – or vice versa – for the same quantity between questions... it's a huge pain unless you've got your conversions down).

Oh, and always check your units – I've lost track of how many times I've been off by six or nine orders of magnitude because I started off in kilometers instead of meters and then squared or cubed that value... and if you have multiple interdependent questions, that's a good way to lose a whole lot of points, very fast.
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MIT Invitational Tournament
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Paul J Gelinas JHS Science Olympiad 2007-2009

quizbowl
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Oh, and always check your units – I've lost track of how many times I've been off by six or nine orders of magnitude because I started off in kilometers instead of meters and then squared or cubed that value... and if you have multiple interdependent questions, that's a good way to lose a whole lot of points, very fast.
You're right on the money with that. *anecdote time*

On a practice test one of my teammates made me, it asked me for the mass of a human (70kg, obviously memorized) in yoctograms. However, silly old me read that as "yottagrams" and instead of calculating 7E28, I calculated 7E-20. Unfortunately, the next twenty questions were all revolved around this number (ex. How many atoms of carbon would it take to add up to that mass? or How many times more mass is that than that a mole of cats?). My partner and I had a heart attack when we got a 0/100, and we considered dropping the event until our teammate noticed our error (It just so happened that we were off by about 48 orders of magnitude for every question, which seemed really fishy). Oh my god, imagine that happening at a competition...

Moral of the story: READ VERY CAREFULLY. And as Pheeny said, watch your units like a hawk.
2010: 5th in NYS
2011: 4th in NYS
2012: 3rd in NYS
<quizbowl> ey kid ya want some shortbread
<EASTstroudsburg13> I don't know why, but I just can't bring myself to delete this post.

Phenylethylamine
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Oh, and always check your units – I've lost track of how many times I've been off by six or nine orders of magnitude because I started off in kilometers instead of meters and then squared or cubed that value... and if you have multiple interdependent questions, that's a good way to lose a whole lot of points, very fast.
You're right on the money with that. *anecdote time*

On a practice test one of my teammates made me, it asked me for the mass of a human (70kg, obviously memorized) in yoctograms. However, silly old me read that as "yottagrams" and instead of calculating 7E28, I calculated 7E-20. Unfortunately, the next twenty questions were all revolved around this number (ex. How many atoms of carbon would it take to add up to that mass? or How many times more mass is that than that a mole of cats?). My partner and I had a heart attack when we got a 0/100, and we considered dropping the event until our teammate noticed our error (It just so happened that we were off by about 48 orders of magnitude for every question, which seemed really fishy). Oh my god, imagine that happening at a competition...

Moral of the story: READ VERY CAREFULLY. And as Pheeny said, watch your units like a hawk.
The factor-label method/dimensional analysis (think stoichiometry in Chem) is quite useful here, and although each question can take slightly more time this way than if you're just manipulating numbers, you're less likely to make mistakes (or get confused about where in a particular problem you are) and it's easier to find previous answers, so overall it can actually be faster.
Protein Modeling Event Supervisor 2015
MIT Invitational Tournament
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Ward Melville High School Science Olympiad 2010-2012
Paul J Gelinas JHS Science Olympiad 2007-2009

quizbowl
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Y'know what I love about this event? You can basically be asked anything! A practice test I just took was completely on Domino's Pizza!
2010: 5th in NYS
2011: 4th in NYS
2012: 3rd in NYS
<quizbowl> ey kid ya want some shortbread
<EASTstroudsburg13> I don't know why, but I just can't bring myself to delete this post.

Phenylethylamine
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Joined: January 8th, 2009, 4:47 pm
State: MA
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Y'know what I love about this event? You can basically be asked anything! A practice test I just took was completely on Domino's Pizza!
Did they give you any background info, or did they just expect you to know something about Domino's Pizza?

I've seen a lot of events that give you some information about the particular topic that the questions are on, while others ask questions under the assumption that you'll know enough about the subject to not need it.
Protein Modeling Event Supervisor 2015
MIT Invitational Tournament
--
Ward Melville High School Science Olympiad 2010-2012
Paul J Gelinas JHS Science Olympiad 2007-2009

quizbowl
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Posts: 1044
Joined: April 10th, 2010, 3:48 pm
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Y'know what I love about this event? You can basically be asked anything! A practice test I just took was completely on Domino's Pizza!
Did they give you any background info, or did they just expect you to know something about Domino's Pizza?

I've seen a lot of events that give you some information about the particular topic that the questions are on, while others ask questions under the assumption that you'll know enough about the subject to not need it.
It was a test from an invitational and I think Domino's sponsored the event or something. Every single question was in relation to the pizza chain (I think they actually wrote the test) and no background info was given. It wasn't that bad, most questions were straight-forward.
2010: 5th in NYS
2011: 4th in NYS
2012: 3rd in NYS
<quizbowl> ey kid ya want some shortbread
<EASTstroudsburg13> I don't know why, but I just can't bring myself to delete this post.

Phenylethylamine
Exalted Member
Posts: 1075
Joined: January 8th, 2009, 4:47 pm
State: MA
Location: Harvard University

### Re: Fermi Questions C

Y'know what I love about this event? You can basically be asked anything! A practice test I just took was completely on Domino's Pizza!
Did they give you any background info, or did they just expect you to know something about Domino's Pizza?

I've seen a lot of events that give you some information about the particular topic that the questions are on, while others ask questions under the assumption that you'll know enough about the subject to not need it.
It was a test from an invitational and I think Domino's sponsored the event or something. Every single question was in relation to the pizza chain (I think they actually wrote the test) and no background info was given. It wasn't that bad, most questions were straight-forward.
What kinds of questions did they ask?
Protein Modeling Event Supervisor 2015
MIT Invitational Tournament
--
Ward Melville High School Science Olympiad 2010-2012
Paul J Gelinas JHS Science Olympiad 2007-2009

claribassist13
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Okay, so my partner and I are doing this for the first time next week. Could someone explain how it works to me and suggest what I should do to prepare? I've read stuff on the sites and it just sounds so complex. It have to be easier than my brain is making it...
2011-2012 Events: Forensics, Fermi Questions, Write It Do It, Disease Detectives

A123456789
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### Re: Fermi Questions C

Unfortunately, there is not great way to prepare for Fermi Questions. You can take practice tests and look up random facts on websites, but there's no way to ensure that you'll know all the material on the test. However, during the test, I would recommend actually thinking about the questions when you form a guess. A lot of people just think, "I don't know the answer, so I'll just guess 3" and then the answer is 10. Break the problem into parts when possible and just keep multiplying the smaller, more manageable parts until you find the answer. If you don't know the answer, just form an educated guess. For example, if the question is, "How many molecules are in a cell?," don't think in the hundreds. Think of all the components of a cell: ribosomes, vacuoles, DNA, and so many other things! You might not be able to determine the answer, but you should at least be able to narrow the range of possibilities to somewhere in the 9-15 range. This is a much better estimate and this sort of very rough, but not uneducated, guessing, will help improve your score immensely.