Pi, 3.14, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Inventors applied the mathematics of pi when making the wheel, pendulums, aircrafts, and more. Pi is a transcendental number which means that the decimal places go on forever. On March 14, 2009 it was made a national holiday, Pi Day. Mathematicians, scientists, and teachers use the holiday to spark interest in math and science worldwide and prove that math can be fun. This holiday has inspired pie eating contests, museums exhibits, and fun mathematic activities. Here’s a few ways for you to integrate Pi Day with your students.
Pi Day Bracelets
This is a fun assignment for younger students. When they wear their bracelets they will count the beads and the pi digits will be familiar with them as they go through their schooling.
- Perler beads
- Elastic cord
- Print out the digits of pi and distribute them to each student
- Assign each digit of pi to a certain color bead.
- Cut the elastic chord to slightly larger than each students wrist
- Have each student tape one side of the chord to their desks/li>
- String your beads according to your number assignments from step 2.
- Once you’ve strung enough beads, double knot the two ends of the bracelet and trim the excess string.
The goal of this project is to get students excited and familiar with pi. At the end of the project they should have a city skyline made from the digits of pi.
- Coloring pencils/crayons/markers
- Graph Paper
- Give each student a sheet of graph paper and their pi digit handout.
- Each column (or building) represents one of the digits of pie. Each square on the graph paper is one. For example, the first digit of pi is 3, so color in three blocks going vertical.
- Keep going with the digits until you have filled the graph paper.
- Color in the background and hang up the “Pi-Line Sky-line” art up around the classroom.
Grades 6-8 Activities
This is a great assignment for older students. They’re more focused on not just knowing the digits for pi, bt also where those numbers come from.
- Various circular objects
- Measuring Tapes or Rulers
- String (If you are using a ruler to measure)
- Student Handout
- They will need to measure the circumference and diameter of the circular object. (if you would like you can use fun and yummy items such as pie and cookies)
- The students should them record their answers and calculate the ratio. If they measured correctly, when they calculate it out their ratio should be very close to 3.14 (pi).
- Take some time at the end of class to have the students share their findings with the class or ask any needed questions. If you use circular foods, you can snack and discuss why Pi is such an important and cool number in math.
Pi Day Board Game
Pi has unlimited possibilities to create fun, exciting board games. Extend this activity by having students play other students’ board games to give them feedback on how to improve their games.
- Poster board
- Group the students up and have them each design a playable board game based around pi. For example, they could invent a board game in which you have to solve a pi equation to advance around to board.
- Ask students to write directions for their game.
- The class can go around the room and play each other’s board games.
Grades 9-12 Activities
Pi in the Real World
Prezi is a creative and fun way to present your information. Have your students create a short Prezi on how pi is used in the real world and why it is so important.
- Computer with internet access
- Storyboard handout
- Ask students to research how Pi is used in the real world (e.g, construction, science, math, etc.).
- Then have students storyboard their presentation (this is a great place for peer and teacher feedback).
- Have students design and present their Prezi to their peers.
Pi Day Card Game
Who doesn’t like a good card game. This activity is a great way to get students thinking about using Pi.
- Deck of cards with tens and face cards removed, except Ace, which represents 1 and Jack, which represents 0. (if you’re playing with a large group you may need 2 decks)
- The object of the game is to be the first player to lay down all the cards in your hand.
- Deal each player 7 cards and put the rest face down in the middle. Each player must lay down the next digit of pi.
- The first player must lay down a 3.
- Keep drawing a card until you find the next digit.
- If you want to make the game harder, require that they learn the digits of pi. The first person to lay down all their cards wins.
You can use our free Pi handouts (66 or 200 digits) to play a contest in your classroom. Whoever can memorize the most digits of pi gets a nice prize at the end. At the end of the contest ask the students what memorization techniques they used to memorize pi. For more great ways to support math in your classroom check out our online course!