Pi Day is a wonderful opportunity for students to study that great irrational number π while having a fun time. This year, Pi Day happens to fall on the last day of school before spring break. Two reasons to celebrate in one day! I have listed 5 ways to celebrate π, along with a few links to describe possible activities for your classroom. [tab
Students are fascinated with the digits of pi. Studying the digits allows the students to understand the concept of its irrationality. The first 2 are my students’ favorites.
- The Great Chain of Pi – http://www.piacrossamerica.org/pia001.html
- Songs – There are many songs about pi on YouTube and SchoolTube. “Mathematical Pi” is a class favorite. http://www.schooltube.com/video/7b903afed13c40170921/Mathematical%20Pi%20Song
- Apps – There are a few apps related to pi. “Learn Pi Free” by John Dugan allows the user to practice typing in the digits of pi, and then allows the user to test himself. It is free on iTunes.
- Pi digit contest – This involves the students competing to see who can memorize the most digits of pi.
- Pi search page – The search page allows students to locate certain digits of pi (like their birthday), and it tells them where it is located in the string of pi digits.
I have found many websites with fun activities for generating the digits for the constant pi.
- “How to Calculate Pi” has 3 different methods for generating pi. http://www.wikihow.com/Calculate-Pi
- Online Pi calculator using regular polygons – http://keisan.casio.com/exec/system/1354857068
- Using inscribed and circumscribed polygons – http://illuminations.nctm.org/Lesson.aspx?id=2477
- Formulas used throughout the ages – http://www.ndl.go.jp/math/e/s1/c4.html
- Machin-like formulas – This formula is for advanced students but is very interesting. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PiFormulas.html
History of Pi:
The number of resources is large. I have provided links to some of my favorites.
- Videos – “The History of Pi” with Brian Costello http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=198227&title=The_History_of_Pi
- Links – “A Brief History of Pi” from Geek Tech –http://www.techhive.com/article/191389/a-brief-history-of-pi.html
- Available on Amazon.com is a 208 page historical account of pi by Petr Beckmann. One reviewer described it as offbeat. I am considering ordering this for a summer read for myself.
- Articles – An article written for the Exploratorium and its exhibit about pi – http://www.exploratorium.edu/pi/history_of_pi/history_of_pi.pdf
- History of Pi and computer applications – http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Pi_chronology.html
Uses of Pi:
- Physics discussion – http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/1sh50y/why_does_pi_appear_so_much_in_physics/
- Engineering –http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/infographics/infographic.view.php?id=11011
- Science – http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/13/pi-day-how-3-14-helps-find-other-planets-and-more/
- Music – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whG11u457fo
- Art – http://www.visualnews.com/2013/07/09/the-art-of-pi-a-colorful-data-visualization/
Fun with Pi
- Pi Day Google Doodle –https://www.google.com/doodles/pi-day
- Sneaky pi detector – http://sneakyuses.com/images/Sneaky_Pidetector.pdf
- Make classroom videos
- Eat pie
- Celebrate Albert Einstein’s birthday! – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/albert-einsteins-birthday-march-14-quotes_n_2876164.html.