# How many packs of pens does the average student go through in one year?

The most important aspect to your question is the method you choose to solve it. Why? Because then you have a much better answer — for which you know the assumptions. You know the weaknesses. So let’s walk through the process. You start by identifying what you know and what you want to know.

1) What is an “average student”? If you are defining this for yourself — you can define it largely as you choose. If a teacher has already defined “average student” then you need to make sure you understand their definition.

I’ll assume the first. Let’s define “average” as: Any person in the USA who is a fulltime student. Grammar school, high school, college.

2) You put an innocent bias in the question by asking “How many packs of pens?” That suggests you already think students go through a lot of pens! You’d be better off using the smallest practical unit of measurement: One pen. Why? Because some students might only use one pen!

3) You also put a spin on the question by asking “how many packs of pens“. Students don’t necessarily use pens much, anymore. And those that might, might use pencils. Or crayons!

4) Getting down to some hard facts? Maybe the question has already turned out to be more complicated than you intended! One thing we really want to know is: How many words does a pen write! That’s the sort of question we can Google. Let’s try “how long do pens write”. That works! We see some other lackwits (muaahaha) have already discussed the question in “askville”. Two interesting responses, but neither answers the question. BZZZZ! We finally get to some hard information on the sixth link. Aaaaaand, we find this is a “political issue”. Lol. Manufacturers don’t want to tell people. So let’s move on to the next link, by the BIC pen company. Finally some hard facts! A BIC writes between 2 and 3 kilometers. That’s great, but it doesn’t quite answer even this part of the question. How many words is that???

Now we’ve identified what is probably the biggest challenge in the whole question — no manufacturer wants to tell the public their pen runs out of ink faster than the competition.

We may need to try another approach, which is simply to ask people (students) how many pens they bought last year. No, whooops, that won’t work, because people always lose pens, leave them part way used. Maybe a better survey question is: How many pens did you throw away, because the ink ran out?

You should be able to figure out a reasonable answer, just by asking a few peeps. I’ll start by answering: When I was in college, I ran the ink out of one or two pens per year. (With modern technology, I wouldn’t use them at all, however.)

You had a very good question in the sense that it led to a number of other small, interesting discoveries!