2014-03-14

By Mari Mermelstein, Online Math Content Specialist, City Year, Inc. 

There are few numbers more loved than Pi. It’s so loved in fact, that we have an entire day (today!) dedicated to celebrating it. As there are not too many mathematical celebrations throughout the year, I feel as though we must ask ourselves, what’s different about Pi? What is it about this number that hooks people into the world of mathematics? Maybe it has something to do with Pi being a non-terminating, non-repeating decimal? Maybe all the excitement stems from the fact that Pi and pie are homophones, and who doesn’t like things that involve pie?!?

No matter the reason, Pi Day presents us with the perfect platform to celebrate mathematics in general and promote a more math friendly culture for our students in schools. We can do this by providing opportunities for students to engage with and succeed with math in low-stakes situations. Take, for instance, this City Year team that turned their Pi Day celebrations into an opportunity to get students excited about improving their fact fluency skills:

The Howe School of Excellence, a middle school in the Austin Community of Chicago, IL, is celebrating Pi Day by providing students the opportunity to earn the privilege to pie their teachers, administrators, and City Year corps members in the face! In the weeks leading up to Pi Day, students could earn a “pie slice” if they completed a fact fluency worksheet with 80% correctness in two minutes or less. Eight “slices” equates to one pie. Today, during our Pi Day event, students will turn in their paper pies for real pies and get the chance to “Pi” the person of their choice in the face!

Another school offering the opportunity to pie a corps member or teacher in the face is the Walker Middle School in Orlando, FL. Yesterday, corps members gave every math teacher a pi-related problem. The first student to finish the problem in each class was entered into the pie throwing raffle. One winner from each grade level was declared over the morning announcements today, and during lunch the festivities will begin.

Curious how others across the network are celebrating Pi Day? You can follow all of the action with the hashtag: #CYPiDay

Looking for some last-minute ways to learn about and celebrate Pi Day?

Pi Day – Your Pi Day home base for videos, news & events, and other fun pi sightings.

Pi Day Fun Facts! Read about various ways people have approximated pi using other polygons, darts, and continued fractions.

Teach Pi: It’s easy to just think about the mathematical applications of pi without thinking about the people behind pi.  Along with great pi-related activities, this website features stories to help tell the “human history behind pi” such as the high schooler who memorized over 10,000 digits of pi, the Congressional vote to officially recognize Pi Day, and the origin of the Pi Day rap: “Lose Yourself in the Digits!”

What did you do to celebrate Pi Day?

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