π Day in the Classroom

The following article is an Edutopia article, 7 Classroom Resources for Pi Day, by Matt Davis.

Pi Day offers a great opportunity for students to explore pi and math-related concepts. There are plenty of great teaching resources online to help your class celebrate Pi Day, so we thought we’d help you sort through them all.

Here are a few of our favorites from around the web… Happy Pi Day!

  • San Francisco Exploratorium Pi Day Activities: Without the Exploratorium, official Pi Day celebrations might never have happened. In 1988, Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw started the tradition, and it was recognized by Congress in 2009. The Exploratorium highlights some great hands-on activities, with links to useful pi-related resources.
  • Learning Resources From PiDay.org: PiDay.org is a wonderful source for interesting activities, news items, and videos related to pi. Be sure to check out the site’s listing of Pi Day videos, as well as the outside links.
  • Happy Pi Day, TeachPi.org: TeachPi hosts a trove of Pi Day resources, featuring fun classroom activities, Pi Day–inspired music, and other fun learning ideas. There’s plenty here to keep students engaged and learning on March 14. Check out the activities section for a bunch of great learning ideas.

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The following post was contributed by Amy Gillespie, Instructional Specialist at St. Ignatius Loyola School in Cincinnati.

The whole point of Pi Day is to instill a greater love of math.  Pi has all sorts of uses for everyday life beyond curriculum standards. I encourage you to share the enthusiasm with your students and plan some fun activities into your Pi Day celebration.  Below are several Pi related activities that may be easily incorporated into your regular school day to promote pi-filled or pie-filled festivities; or both!

Wish to excite your students and insπre prior knowledge before March 14th?  Incorporate a few lessons before 3.14 a.k.a. the Third month on the fourteenth day; March 14th.

Memorization Contest – Provide copies of the first 100, 500, 1,000 digits of pi for those eager students who wish to participate in memorizing digits – otherwise known as a Piphiologist. At St. Ignatius, we have a Pi Memorization Hall of Fame with Grade level winners as well as lists for 50, 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 digit club inductees. Yes, we have had two students memorize an impressive 1000+ digits! In addition to receiving a Pi T-shirt and circular sweet treat for their accomplishment; students are recognized in our Hall of Fame.

Decorate your door (or as we do a hallway) with circular items – caps, hub caps, lids, hula-hoops, circular logos, etc., as well as humorous Pi comics. These go up soon after Valentine’s Day to stir up interest with our student body.

Read about Pi or partner with the Language Arts instuctor and plan integrated lesson(s) with Cindy Neuschwander’s series of books; Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi as introductions to angles, parts of circles and Pi measurements. Click here for a link to several Pi books.

Label old CDs or paper plates  – Students color-code parts of circle with sharpie markers on recycled CDs. There are several YouTube videos related to the parts of a circle availa. Click here for a link to Math Antics’ video explaining parts of circle.

Coordinate with the cafeteria to provide a circular lunch menu and EAT PIe for this day. In past years, our lunch staff has creatively supported Pi Day with cutie pie oranges, cheeseburgers with all their roundness, oreos or whatever circular food items are available. This year it’s chicken potpies! Our science and math teachers even sign-up to provide a homemade or store bought pie to share in the staff lounge; yumm!

With a little prior knowledge about circles and their relational measures, your students will be ready for Pi festivities on March 14th. Start the day with an Interactive Pie attendance SmartNotebook file created by Julia Young.  Free download found here.

Pi Trivia – Have students research Pi and announce Pi related trivia questions during school-wide announcements. Those who provide a correct answer get a small circular treat – moonpie, peppermint, etc. For more examples to share with your students, click here.

Search students’ birthday digits within digits of π on this site   This is good practice reading large numbers and comparing/reviewing place value.

Measure, Measure, Measure circular items – lids, discs, frisbees, hula-hoops, balls, jars, soup cans, etc. – Ask students to find the diameter and or the radius as well as circumference and area. Another super fun measuring activity is to have students blow bubbles using diluted Dawn and water and straws. Student will pierce the straw through a tiny sud and gently blow creating a dome, which once bursts leaves a sudsy ring on the tabletop. Students calculate the circumference of the bubble ring.

Have fun – Take hula-hoops out to recess, play Simon Says using parts of circle motions – Radius (extend one arm out), diameter (extend both arms), circumference (circle arm around), 360 degrees (full spin), 180 degrees (half spin), center (make fist and place at sternum), etc.  Be creative.

Walk the Talk, PIe Walk – Create a circle of Pi digits on the floor.  Play Pi selected music found on YouTube; when the music stops whichever digit of pi is chosen (there will also be a bag of digits), those students on that digit wins.  Also have students create human chords, arcs, diameters, center points, etc. to reach those kinesthetic learners. After walking about a few times, ask the students to predict which digit will most likely be selected.  Their predictions lead to this simple activity where students graph the first 100 digits of Pi within a bar graph. Of course have them predict which digit they believe to have the most occurrences (the number 9).

Namebrand Circular logos are everywhere from our favorite stores such as Target, Starbucks, to cars emblems, and even FB.  Have students select a circle logo and write a math word problem

using the logo. Go one step further and require students to solve each other’s student-created problems.

Play Pi apps and games! There are endless Pi Kahoots and games available. For instance, NCTM supported online game or available app, Pi Fightis designed to help upper level students become comfortable with using both radians and degrees. Choose between radians, degrees or a combination of both to hit Okta the octopus.

Reach out to ALL instructors and plan integrated Pi activities – it is everywhere! In the Bible, art and even in Physical Education – celebrate Pi the runner’s way; with  a Pi-Day 5K or 3.1416 miles! There’s also a virtual Pi Day race where you can register online!

Finally, enjoy Pi and pass that enthusiasm and knowledge on to eager math minds.

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