Many children, when starting to learn about Pi, struggle with its concepts. Lucky for them, March 14th is an excellent opportunity to plan fun Pi day activities for middle school children, making math a fun learning experience. Here are some ways teachers can accomplish this.
Learn the History
Three-point one four one five nine two six five three five eight nine seven nine three two three! Or if you’re lazy, Pi. It is one of the most well-known numbers in the math universe–it is merely the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
Since the time of the Babylonians, approximately 6000 years ago, Pi has fascinated humanity with its irrationality. No, it wasn’t being unreasonable. Irrationality means that Pi has no seeming end to it and can’t be expressed as a ratio of two numbers. But isn’t 22/7 the same as Pi? Yes and no. 22/7 is one of Pi’s approximations that we use today and is accurate enough for most calculations.
- The Babylonians approximated it to 3 and 3.125,
- The ancient Egyptians used 3.1605
- The famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Archimedes showed it was between 22/7 and 223/71.
- Zu Chongzhi, a Chinese mathematician, gave a better approximation of 355/113, but his work remained lost. The mathematicians in the 1700s had already adopted the 22/7 Greek symbol π in their calculations.
Learning is best when one comes to conclusions themselves. Children are curious little beings that love exploring the world around them via practical means instead of reading about it or familiarizing the concepts. That being said, you can start via practical pi day activities that thrust them into the basic concepts of Pi.
Children love using geometrical instruments like set squares, compasses, and protractors while doing geometry. You can start by distributing compasses to children and tell them to draw random circles. Tell them to measure its diameter and circumference using a string and a ruler. Tell them to divide the circumference and diameter using a calculator and write them on the board. They’ll be amazed when they see that the results are close to each other even though they drew random circles.
Additionally, you can give out prizes to those students for calculating the most accurate value of Pi, giving them the incentive to participate and engage throughout the day. This is one of the best Pi day activities to start with as it introduces the notion of mathematical constants and tells students of their significance.
The next most essential concept students need to learn is the irrationality of Pi. You can start by introducing the concept of the irrationality of Pi by using your board. Let each student come up to the board and divide 22 by 7 to see the board fill up with Pi’s values up to the class strength. You can show the repeating patterns in 22/7 and explain how irrational numbers don’t show this behavior and how.
Next, you can list down your students’ birthdays on the board, and write down Pi’s actual value up to the point where one of the student’s birthday shows up. The student gets a prize when their birthday shows up. This can be an excellent opportunity to tell them the infinite nature of Pi. If the students write down enough pi digits, they can find their birthdays in it.
Fun with Food
With all the learning going on, your students will get hungry. We all know how restless and inactive they can become once this happens. Wink! Wink!
This is a great way to involve some food-related Pi day activities and help them regain their strength. You can organize a bake sale where children can put up stalls to sell circular food items they make – like pies, pizzas, cookies, or doughnuts. The proceeds from these can go towards a good cause. Again, you can even give out prizes to those students that collect the most money.
Play Engaging Games
One of the best ways to engage with children is via games on Pi day. A carnival-esque event can incorporate both games and food, but if you’re looking for some games limited to classroom pi day activities, many games can engage students.
You can host a memory game where students try to memorize and write down the value of pi to an increasing number of decimal places in a limited amount of time. They get eliminated if they don’t get it right, and the last student standing wins.
You can even involve other classrooms where students can compete with each other in a race for 3.14 miles, make a human circle or shape the Greek symbol for Pi in the least amount of time, or play games involving hoops.
Celebrate with Art and Crafts
Students, especially those in middle school, respond better to music, arts, and crafts. It helps them exhibit their imagination to construct tangible memorabilia and cherish Pi day with a fond memory. More importantly, it is a great way to gauge your students’ understanding of Pi’s concepts.
You can give them ideas like making jewelry with beads with different colors, counting up to Pi’s digits, making a collage out of the digits, or painting the symbol for Pi in their way. You can involve music and poetry like singing songs based on Pi. Involve your students and encourage them to come up with creative ideas on their own.
Try looking for educational kits that already compile essential guides and tools for teaching students basic math concepts. Kits like the Pi-day Fun Pack are a good place to start.
From our largest galaxies and stars to the smallest particles in our quantum world, Pi is not only crucial in geometry, but has helped humanity explore the universe. It has become a pop culture icon with mentions in the Simpsons, Star Trek, and Yann Martel’s famous book Life of Pi–making Pi one of the most famous constants.
So don’t waste this learning opportunity for your students on March 14th. On a side note, it also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday, a coincidence? I think not.
Pi Day FAQs
Pi is the the Greek letter for the letter p, or the constant π. It is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle. In decimal form, the value of pi is approximately 3.14 or 22/7.
Pi Day is celebrated by people all around the world. They participate in various activities:
1. Bake a favorite pie
2. Play geometry games with circles
3. Throw a Pi Day party
4. Measure the circumference and area of items in the house, such as coins, plates and cookies.
5. Research the achievements of Albert Einstein, who was born on 3/14 (March 14th)
No, Pi does not end. Pi is an irrational number. As such, it has no final digit. In addition, there is no pattern to its digits.