Let’s Celebrate Pi Day! by Erin Nobles, Director, Mathnasium of St Petersburg
March 14 is celebrated in math classes around the world as Pi day, but there’s no reason parents can’t get in on the fun! Plan some fun math-centered activities and show your favorite student how math can be silly.
What is Pi?
First things first…in case you haven’t thought about Pi since 10th grade geometry class, Pi is the number you get when you divide the circumference of a circle (the distance around the circle) by its diameter (the distance across). Because Pi is the same for every circle, we can use it to solve for the diameter of a circle, if we know the circle’s circumference, or to solve for the circumference of a circle if we know its diameter. And even though Pi is often written at 3.14, Pi contains an infinite number of digits without a pattern of repetition. As
far as we can tell, it doesn’t matter how long we calculate Pi (even with NASA’s most sophisticated supercomputers), we will never find its end.
Playing with numbers
The curious properties of Pi have fascinated mathematicians for many years, and provide teachers and parents with lots of opportunities for fun. Of course, you can never go wrong with a Pi day pie. Encourage your children to compete to memorize the most digits of Pi and the winner gets the largest slice! Another idea is to show children how to calculate Pi in the real world by having your child measure cylindrical objects with string. Have them cut up the string into three even pieces, and then measure the leftover piece to see how it’s always Pi. Also, there are
many websites devoted to Pi day fun, games, and accessories. For ideas, visit www.piday.org. But even without a computer, parents can encourage children to memorize the first few digits of Pi. Artists can write poetry about Pi (a Pi-ku, perhaps?) or paint a picture of Pi. If you’re feeling sporty, try a Pi-athlon (run or bike 3.14 miles – roughly a 5K).
No longer reserved only for the geek culture, pi is fun, approachable, and entertaining. At Mathnasium we are seeking to promote National Pi Day and the importance of a strong STEAM education. All technology, from the wheel to the Smart Phone, utilizes physical laws that are described in terms of mathematics, and we want to encourage you to enjoy this fun day, which also happens to be the birthday of Albert Einstein!
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