Hot Estimates

Estimate the number of chillies in this picture:


A Mathematics Lesson Starter Of The Day

Topics: Starter | Estimating

  • L Khaira, Letchworth
  • A fab starter, just out of interest is there an exact answer?
  • Transum,
  • The exact answer appears below for Transum subscribers. Answers to all the starters, online exercises, puzzles and a lot more are also available to those who have subscribed.
  • Miss P, London
  • It would be nice to have the answers to the questions. I'm sure you know as teacher, we have enough on our plate, let alone having to go and find the answers to resources.
    However, i must say, having these resources are fab!
  • Tom, Ecclesbourne
  • We got an answer of 700 by projecting on to Smart board making a rectangle which covered 1/35 th of the whole and finding the average number of chillis in the rectangle when randomly placed.
    Tom and Year 8 at Ecclesbourne
  • Tom, Ecclesbourne
  • Sorry done it again with Year 12 and using more samples got a mean of 16 therefore 16 X 35 = 560, probably a more accurate estimate.
    This is an excellent starter, thank you
  • Strattttty, John Flamsteed, Derbyshire
  • We split it into 64 rectangles. We then made a random sample of 8 of the rectangles, finding a mean of 13.5.
    So 64 x 13.5 = 864 !!!!!!!!

    (y10 stats group)
  • Top Maths Class!, Withins
  • We divided it into 24 boxes. Counted the number in three boxes and then multiplied it by 8, it gave us 640!
  • RAAS,
  • We are a group of year 8 students from Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Surrey and are desperate to know how many chillies are in the picture. Please put us out of our misery!!! We reckon there are about 763.
  • Top set year 10, Ludlow
  • Trick question! One green chilli, one parsnip and the rest are carrots. So the answer is one.
  • N M, EHS
  • S2 Maths Class do not like this question as there is no exact answer!
  • Jon O'Neill, Brixham
  • My expert year 10 set 7 maths class have divided the picture to find 1/25th. which gave us a mean of 19. so we think there is 475.

    (what stays hot in the fridge? a Chilli!!!!)
  • Ross Roberton, International School Of Luxembourg
  • Our class calculated a Mean of 428.3 on our first guess. After a longer time considering stragies, our second guess produced a mean of 733.3.
    We are still waiting/hoping someone is going to count them for an exact answer!
    Grade 9, Luxembourg.
  • Mystery Man, Seaford College
  • I divided the squares equally into 24 squares and then I chose a box that was representative and tried to count them.I got the number 37 and then x it by 24 to give me 888.
  • Mrs J.Thompson, London
  • We have enough on our plates as teachers and some of the students don't belive us so their should be some answers.
  • Miss Deans S1's, Carnoustie High School
  • Great starter. Our answer was 665 chillies in the picture.
    We thought that the starter got our brains thinking and Innes thought it was a piece of chilli cake!
    Ryan was the closest with 698.
  • Miss Hill, Year 9
  • Josh and Ben had a go at this while waiting for the rest of the class. They split it into 16 boxes, but when reading the comments, they agreed that doing a few boxes then averaging would make it more accurate. A good starter for getting conversations started brains thinking.
    We thought just over 500!
  • Mrs Sinclair's Year 8, St Bede's, Ormskirk
  • Another great Starter of the Day. My Year 8 really love your puzzles! We averaged 681 with 19 pupils. Rebekah thought it was 1 big one zoomed in to look like lots of little ones.
  • Oliver, Star Primary School
  • I loved this starter!!!! Our class copied and pasted the picture on to our smart board. We then circled each pepper and came with the awnser of 650!!!
  • Grade 7, International School Of Bearn
  • We divided the picture in 64 rectangles and counted about 11 chillies in each of them. Our estimate is then 64 times 11 = 704 chillies!
  • Mr Lewis, Aston Fields Middle School
  • We think there might be over a thousand chillies!
  • Year 11, Welshpool High School Powys
  • Jordan and Spencer split the white board into 10cm squares. One square had 23 chillies. They reckoned there were 48 squares on the whiteboard. 48 x 23 = 1104. Sorted! Oh and one green one.
  • Miss H And Co!, BMS
  • You're all wrong! We divided the picture into 30 even rectangles. We calculated the mean number of chilli's with a sample of 4 squares. We then multiplied this by 30. We got 660!!
  • 7K2y, Kettlethorpe High School
  • Our answers ranged from 309 to 2122!! What is the correct solution please?
  • Lea Beadoux, Cavendish Close Junior School
  • There is only 1 green one. Has anybody noticed that.
  • P. Shouksmith, St. Andrew's School
  • We think there are 692 by splitting the area into 40 rectangles and then averaging the number in each rectangle.
  • Year 7, Welshpool High School Powys
  • Daniel measured the length and width of the rectangle. Times the answers. They measured 1 chillie as 10 cm then divided and got an answer of 494. Sammie & Rebecca drew 10 cm squares and counted 16 & 14. they reckoned 48 squares. timesed and got 720.
  • Year 8, Welshpool High School
  • We had lots of guesses from 1 to 999. Kate drew a 10 cm square and Charlotte counted 16 chillies. Jake and Matthew measured the large rectangle as 80 by 60 cm. We then went 48 x 16 and got 768.
  • 7B2, The Vyne Commuity School
  • We took a mean of the classes estimates and got 704.
  • Miss Wade, Haywood Engineering College
  • 8T thought 580.
    We split the picture into eight and estimated by counting, 4 of the rectangles, then doubled the answer.
  • Mr Lockett, Finham Park School
  • Top set Year 10. Answers ranged from 1 to 3698!!! Using a grid we estimated 630 chillies.
  • Ollie, Longfield Academy
  • I think It's 648.
  • Year 10 Tara, Max & Jody., Shapwick School, Somerset
  • We thought there were just over 1000. We split the chillies into a 48 square grid, then used averages to aid our estimate.
  • Grade 3 H, Muscat, Oman
  • We think there are 800 chillis. What we did is divide the picture into 16 squares. We then estimated what one square has which was about 50. We then multiplied the number by 16 and got the answer.
  • P7 And P6, Mrs Crozier
  • We think there are 1250 chillies, although one person thinks the answer is 1 green chilli!
  • Mr Lewis And The Jersey Gals, Jersey
  • We tried two methods. We counted along the base and the side and multiplied and got 1026 ( but the base was quite thick with chillies so this may have been an overestimate).
    We also counted one square ( about 1/30th of the rectangle ) and counted 26 chillies making 30 x 26 = 780 which we think is better.
  • Year 7 Set 1, Surbiton High School
  • We each took an estimate using a grid then took the average (mean) of everyones answers. We think there are 452 chillies.
  • Jay L,
  • I am not a teacher,anyway,I think the answer is 697. If you wanted to find out how I worked it out:
    I estimated the area of the square(I could not find a ruler so I estimated the length.
    10cm in width and 15cm in length so I times 10 and 15 and I got an answer I got was 150cm.Then I found an area of a chilli and I got 0.28cm squared;0.2cm * 1.4. Next I divided 150 by 0.28 and I got 535.71 which I rounded the number and I got 536. Finally I times 536 by 1.3 which I got 697.(I times it 1.3 because some chillies overlap each other) I hope this information useful for you.:).
  • Year 4 ,, Trinity Primary School, Wolverhampton
  • Children in year 4 split the picture into 16 rectangles, making an estimate in one square of 35. Then we multiplied 35 x 16 = 560.
    We really enjoy using your starters!
  • Green Group, Neerim District SC, Australia
  • We estimated 836 by dividing it up into 16 squares and counting half of these squares.
    What do you get when you a tablet and a chilli?
    A chill pill.
  • Year 6, All Saints CE Primary School, Stibbard
  • Year 6 divided the chillies into 16 rectangles. We counted 30 in one section and multiplied it by 16 = 480 chillies. It got us thinking!
  • 5K, Angel Road Junior School
  • We divided the picture in to a 4x4 grid (16 sections). Then we counted the chillies in one square, which, came to 41.
    We then multiplied 41 x 16 and our answer was 656.
  • Maths Intervention Group 8U, Red House Academy
  • Year 8, Cannot compute, computer doesn't know. Can you give us the answer please!!!!!!!
  • Andrea Savva, Brixham College
  • Our very noisy class think that there are 464 chillies in the picture!
    We divided the picture into 30 pieces and counted how many there were then added them all up. We only counted half chillies as a half which is why the other estimates are too high. That Jon O'Neill's teacher from 2009 is very clever!!
  • St Peters Year 6, Shoreham
  • We created a grid of 32 over the picture and then counted the chilles in one area of the grid. Then we multiplied the number of chillies by 32. Our best guess is 1100.
  • SLK Bali, Indonesia
  • Greetings from grade 5G Sekolah Lentera Kasih Bali, Indonesia.
    We tried to solve the problem by dividing the picture into 25 sections and we estimated that there are 22 chillies in each section. Then we multiplied 25 by 22 to get our final estimation of the number of the chillies. We think there are 550 chillies.

    [Transum: Greetings to all of you over in Bali. Thanks for sharing your chili counting techniques. Hope you enjoyed the challenge.]
  • Mrs Clark & Her Awesome Yr 8 Top Set, British International School Phuket
  • Our Year 8 class divided the rectangle into 48 squares. Nika then found an average per square of 14.
    48 x 14 = 672 chillies!!!
    Charlie was the closest estimator when he initially guessed 700, well done Charlie!
  • Mr Benbow, Pinewood School
  • Year 5 Set 1 think it is 625. We have estimated the length and width of the rectangle as approximately 25 chillies each side. Therefore total number of chillies = 25 x 25 = 625.
  • Octagons, Houghton Regis Academy
  • We looked closely at the picture and came up with an estimate of 364.82 (we have been working with decimals!).
  • P Milton, Bedford Preparatory School
  • My class of year 6's are happy that the answer is probably over but near to 600.
  • 8S4, Joseph Whitaker School
  • We split it into 16 rectangles and counted 50 in one of the rectangles... multiplied it by 16 and got 800!!! :-D.
  • Tommy Ostrowski, The Madeley Way High School
  • It is 666 with the green one being the Devil's chilli!
  • 4AV, Calmore Junior School
  • In 4AV we think that there are 1000 chillies in the picture.
  • Mrs Alison Bigsy, Marley's Academy
  • We think that this is mega. By using 16 grids we think it is 672 (16 x 42).
  • Sir William Wandforth Wacademy, Mrs Bef. Allen
  • My head spinning just looking at it...mind you it was a heavy weekend!
  • Northgate High, 9L2
  • We think it is 672. And we are right!!
  • 4W, Havergal College
  • Our Grade 4 class came up with multiple strategies, some of which were very similar to the older students! We are super smart awesome!
  • Mr Winter's Maths Group, Kuala Lumpur
  • First we divided the shape up into 64ths.
    Then we counted the number of chillis in one of the squares.
    After that we used the grid method to work out the answer and we found that there were 768 chillis.
    It was great to see that we were only 5 away from the estimate of the school in Surrey.
    Thanks for the challenge.
  • Miss Robbins, Green Hill Lower
  • I thought these starters really help get the kids ready and interested for maths, for example when it's last lesson on a Friday, all they really want to do is sit and mess around but with these starters they get people involved. Our class isn't the top, so these do help as a challenge, but a fun one. These starters also help me to see who is achieving more and who needs extra help, just by getting them to do it and answer on the whiteboards. Thanks Transum! This really is a great website, but the only thing is I just wish I found it sooner!
  • Topaz Class, Meeching Valley, Newhaven
  • We worked it out two ways. Firstly like area and then by dividing it into 64 squares and counting how many chilies were in each square. Both methods gave us an estimate of 600 - 650.
  • Miss Sharrock And Year 6, St Monica's
  • We split the picture up into small fractions (32'ths), estimated 3 of these, worked out the mean, then multiplied to get an estimate of 736.

How did you use this starter? Can you suggest how teachers could present or develop this resource? Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for Maths teachers anywhere in the world.
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Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers such as tablets, iPads or Laptops?  This page was really designed for projection on a whiteboard but if you really want the students to have access to it here is a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments:

However it would be better to assign one of the student interactive activities below.

Laptops In Lessons

Students could collect everyone's estimates on a spreadsheet.

Use this data to calculate the median estimate. The student whose estimate is closest to the median wins a chilli.

Here is the URL which will take them to a different type of estimating activity.

Student Activity



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