Have a sweet Pi Day!
How are you and your students celebrating Pi Day (March 14) this year? Our Carnegie Learning team is full of passionate former math educators, and here are some of their favorite Pi Day memories. Find one to try in your classroom!
Scavenger Hunts and Sewing Skirts
Tarin Barrow, Director of Professional Learning - West
Middle and high school math teacher for ten years in Texas
"I would host a Pi Day scavenger hunt, which the students loved! Teams had various lengths of string, and they had to find items around the school with that circumference and then calculate diameters. Students took pictures of the objects they found to share with the class when the hunt was over. Students got so creative!
One year, I had a fashion club and we made circle skirts using pi. The skirts were such a big hit that I opened it up to the school and had a lot of students come that weren't usually in the club. There were a lot of aha moments."
Hula Hoops and Pie
Aaron Houston, Manager of School Partnerships, Mathematics - South
High school math teacher for nine years in Texas
"I would have students estimate how far a hula hoop would travel when rolled one time then calculate the distance based on the diameter times pi. And of course I'd let them pie me in the face!"
Jasmine Sanders, Director of Professional Learning - South
Math teacher, assistant principal, math coach, and staff developer for 20 years in Florida
"Pi Day was always fun! I would ask students to bring circular objects or food to class and find the circumference and diameter of every object and then calculate the ratios. After discussing ratios, we would end with a circular food and frisbee party."
Paper Chains and Pi Tattoos
Cassie Martin Reynolds, Regional Vice President of Professional Learning, South
High school math teacher, math coach, and department head for five years in Kentucky
"My students visually represented the uniqueness of pi by assigning each digit a different color. They then used construction paper to create a paper chain that reflected the decimals so students could see that there was no repeating pattern. With multiple classes, each class worked on part of the chain, and when these were combined, the absence of a pattern became especially striking.
Another year, students each brought a circular food to class—any food they wanted, as long as it was a circle. We measured the circumference and diameter of each item and calculated the circumference-to-diameter ratio, and they figured out what was so special about it!
One year, we explored fun, wacky things people have done with pi, like the record-holder who recited the most places in pi over ten hours in the Guiness Book of World Records. We also found people with pi tattoos. We discussed why many people find pi fascinating."
Pie and Pizza
Lemario Bland, Senior Manager of School Partnerships
Middle school math teacher, curriculum leader, and department chairsperson for six years in Florida
"We had a contest where students divided the fraction for pi to see who could get the furthest number after the decimal. We also had students measure the circumference and diameter of different circular objects to find the ratio. Then we'd have a pizza party, and some students got to pie a teacher in the face. I've even volunteered to get pied in the face after I left the classroom and joined Carnegie Learning, at a school I was supporting. Students loved it!"
Eating Pie and Reciting Pi
Saradhi Saripalli, Senior Manager of School Partnerships
Middle school math teacher for five years in Kentucky and Illinois
"Usually, we had students measure different circles in the room or the school and find the ratio of circumference to diameter. They'd realize it was pi every time. Once they completed 5 circles, they received a piece of actual pie."
Video and Cookies
Julie Stowell-Moss, Director of Professional Learning - South
Bilingual/ESL middle school and high school math teacher, math instructional coach, and all-content instructional coach for 12 years in Texas
"I showed my students this video about calculating pi using actual pies and then recreated the activity with cookies. Students loved making a cookie circle, calculating as a class, and, of course, eating the cookies."
Not Too Young to Pie in the Face
Jack Crumm, Manager of School Partnerships
K-8 teacher for 24 years in West Virginia
As a K-8 teacher, I could still celebrate Pi Day with students too young to understand pi fully. First, I’d set a goal for them to reach. Maybe they needed to work collaboratively on a project or complete a particular series of assignments. When setting the goal, I told students that they would be allowed to elect a classmate to pie me (or the principal) in the face if it was achieved. This was a great motivator, and it put pi on students’ radars for later learning.
Any Way You Slice It
No matter how you choose to celebrate Pi Day, your students will surely remember it as a fun and engaging day.
Speaking of fun and engaging, have you joined the LONG + LIVE + MATH movement yet? If not, check it out, sign the pledge, and connect with other passionate educators who are innovating how math is taught every day.
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