Pi Day 2016 – 3.1416 Rounding out to a good year!

In celebration of Monday’s Pi Day, which is a pretty cool one this year, since 3/14/16, or 3.1416 is Pi rounded to the nearest 10,000th, I am devoting this post to Pi.  I will probably do another one on Monday, but for those teachers out there who want some ideas for things to do with their students Monday, a few days advance notice is always a good thing!

There are Pi Day activities everywhere, so I thought I would share a few ideas, links, and an activity from Fostering Geometric Thinking with Casio Technology (Dr. Sonja Goerdt) to support those of you looking for things to do in the classroom.

Here is a couple things I did with my students (middle school and high school alike!)2016-03-10_15-05-29

  1. Have students bring in different circular food objects (i.e. Little Debbie’s cakes, Moon Pies, actual pies, cookies of all sorts, crackers, etc.).  We would take this variety of circles, find the diameter and circumference (using string) and then calculate ratios to “confirm” the magical number Pi. Then we’d eat!
  2. Have a contest of who could recite the digits of Pi.  Winner was the one who could go the furthest – always fun.  This does require students to prepare ahead of time, so if you want to do this, make sure you tell students who are interested to get studying.

Here are some links to activities I’ve found just searching the web.  There are a lot out there.

  1. Pi Day http://www.piday.org/million/ This site lists a million digits of Pi, and then, if you click on the links to the right, you can search the digits of Pi (for special sequences, like your birthdate), Pi puzzle (New York Times), or Einstein Rap.  There are lots of other links, so explore away.
  2. Exploratorium http://www.exploratorium.edu/pi/pi_activities/index.html has a whole list of lessons/activities that explore Pi in many ways. One is the search digits one as well. Another one I think sounds very interesting is the Tossing Pi (scroll down the list to find this) – calculating Pi tossing toothpicks. Kids would love that!
  3. Project Mathematics http://www.projectmathematics.com/storypi.htm This has videos you can choose about the history of Pi, uses of Pi, people explaining what they think Pi is.  Might be good to warm up your class with.
  4. Joy of Pi – http://www.joyofpi.com/pilinks.html#articles  This page has lot of links to interesting articles about Pi, history, etc.  Lots of resources.
  5. Live Science – http://www.livescience.com/29197-what-is-pi.html Has a video and other resources.
  6. Edutopia – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/pi-day-lesson-plans-matthew-davis  Lessons and activities for elementary students.
  7. Education World – http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson335.shtml  Lessons and activities around Pi – multi-grade level.
  8. Teachπ.org – http://www.teachpi.org/  Lots of everything about Pi – books, activities, history, etc.

Finally, we have a fun graphing calculator (Prizm) activity that helps students discover Pi by exploring the circumference/diameter ratio using the picture of clock faces of multiple sizes.  It’s a great activity, especially if you want to integrate technology.  I’ve attached a PDF of the lesson, Investigation 4.3 Investigating Pi.  The activity includes sample answers that go through the calculator actions as well. Download PDF here: Investigating Pi FGTwCT Fostering Geometric Thinking – Investigation 4.3

Have fun planning for Pi Day!