Pi Day is coming on March 14! And not just any old Pi Day, but an “Epic Pi Day” on 3.14.15 at 9:26:53; that date/time corresponds to the first 10 digits of pi (π = 3.141592653). This happens only once per century – truly a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for most people.
NationalPiDay.org is a crowd-sourced resource that was founded by pi enthusiast Noelle Filippenko to promote America’s National Pi Day, and the importance of a strong STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education. Through videos, online games, activities, demos, and events, our pi community engages students, educators, and the public in the fun of experiential learning as a means of inspiring the next generation of scientists, researchers, doctors, educators, and techies who will drive life-changing innovation.
Why pi? Beloved worldwide, pi is simply the never-ending number π = 3.14… with no repeating patterns. Being irrational, it cannot be represented as the quotient of two integers. It is used to calculate the circumference of a circle – any circle – from its diameter, among a multitude of other applications in math, physics, and engineering. Pi appears “behind the scenes” in almost countless ways across many disciplines.
FIVE WAYS TO CELEBRATE PI!
Here are some specific activities that can be used to celebrate pi in your community. All of these, and many more, are available on NationalPiDay.org. This is just a taste of pi!
1. Remember That Number
Though pi is never-ending, in practice one doesn’t actually need many of its digits. For example, the circumference of the Earth can be calculated to a precision of 1 centimeter with just the first 10 digits of pi. Learning these first ten digits is, well, as easy as pi (3.141592653) – it’s manageable and accessible. You can simply visualize a calendar plus digital clock on 3.14.15 at 9:26:53. Or go to the Watch page and sing along with our Pi Song to the tune of the ABCs.
Alternatively, learn a sentence in which the letter-count of each word corresponds numerically to the first 10 numbers in pi, such as “Wow, I made a short memorable pi string, could you?” (3 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3). Or think of it as memorizing the 10 digits of a telephone number: 314-159-2653.
2. Take Measurements
To see that the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter is a bit more than 3, here’s an easy demo. Get a toilet-paper roll and measure its diameter. Cut it along its long dimension, unwrap it, and then measure the length of the side that was cut. It will be pi (or a little more than 3) times the diameter. Alternatively, you can simply wrap string around any circular or cylindrical object, like a soup can, pizza, or pie. Then take that string and place it across the diameter in slightly more than 3 segments.
3. Interactive Games
- Piece of Pi: Help build up pi! When you first join the website by entering your email address, you automatically add another digit to pi – the digit corresponding to 1 plus the number of people who preceded you. As more people join, the sequence approximating pi becomes progressively longer. The program displays your number in the sequence along with the associated digit of pi. You also get some interesting facts about your number.
- Slice of Pi: Here, visitors simply enter up to a 10-digit number, and they can see how far into the series their number first occurs within the first 200 million digits of pi. It’s fun to check your birthday date, phone, or favorite lotto numbers.
NationalPiDay.org has many printable worksheets with activities like measuring polygons to estimate pi, word searches, jumbles, and crossword puzzles that emphasize relevant words such as circle, diameter, and circumference.
There are also videos by Alex Filippenko, our “Pi Piper,” including A Brief Introduction to Pi, Pi in Pop Culture and Fun Facts, and A Brief History of Pi. These are an excellent resource for teachers and the public. Other videos include the sing-along ABCs of Pi, and an overview story from ABC News at last year’s Pi Day at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
NationalPiDay.org is the go-to place for pi, and we want to know what the world is doing for Pi Day (or at any other time) through stories, videos, and images, so that we may continue to build the website into a community-driven resource for pi. Go to NationalPiDay’s social media channels (@piZoneSocial), post your pi day activities, and sign up for our mailing list for future pi-ticipation events.
WEAR YOUR PI!
NationalPiDay.org has created the world’s first “pi-raphernalia” with custom pi-themed graphic t-shirts and stickers where $3.14 of the price assists the organization in providing a shirt for free to a school teacher to share more pi with their students.
About National Pi Day
Pi Day was founded at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s interactive science museum, and it has been celebrated there every year since 1988. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives declared March 14 (3.14) to be National Pi Day. They passed resolution HR 224 to celebrate the importance of math, science, and education in our lives. This day provides a chance to spark interest in learning among students and the general public.
Courtesy of Noelle Filippenko at piZone.org.