Happy Pi Day! Pi is the Greek letter “π,” and in mathematics it represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159265359. It is commonly referred to as 3.14, hence why Pi Day is celebrated on March 14, or 3/14.
The occasion has now turned into a whole industry, as evidenced by these 12 Pi Day products you didn’t know you needed, but do.
Here are some ways to make math fun (because pizza and pie make everything a bit more fun, right?) and celebrate Pi Day:
* Have a contest to see who can memorize the most numbers of Pi.
Pi is an irrational and transcendental number. It will will continue infinitely without a pattern and has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. According to PiWorldRankingList.com, Chao Lu correctly recited 67,890 digits of pi over a 24-hour period. I'm not suggesting you try to best him, but see how far you can get.
* Crack everyone up with Pi Day jokes
You can find a collection of good ones here. My favorite:
What do you get when you cut a jack o’lantern by its diameter?
* Eat Pie (but before first, measure it and do some math while you chow down)
Who doesn't love pie? This is the perfect day to order pizza, all in the name of numerical education.
And who doesn't love pie for dessert? My tween and I had a great time baking our entry for the South Side Pie Challenge last fall and you can download the amazing winning pie recipes here. You have to log in, but it's easy and free and the A Turtle Named Chocolate recipe is especially worth it.
For a pie especially suited to Pi Day, check out this πneapple-rhubarb pie. (Get it?? Pineapple to πneapple? Does my love of that make me a total nerd? Yeah, I thought so.)
Use either the sweet and savory pies use this as a chance for some math practice. Measure the circumference and diameter of your pie. Divide the circumference by the diameter. Voila! It should equal 3.14.
Alternatively, calculate the circumference of a pie with the formula 2πr (r = radius) or π times the diameter. Remind kids that diameter = 2r. Do all these calculations to see that they're equivalent.
* Wish Einstein a happy birthday
Maybe stick a candle in one of those pies in honor of Albert Einstein, who was born in Germany on March 14, 1879.
* Use your head
The Exploratorium has a snazzy Pi Day website and suggests activities that show kids how pi works, including one using hat sizes, and another that helps kids understand that "Pi is an irrational number, which means that its digits never end and that it doesn’t contain repeating sequences of any length" and what that means.
* Check out the Pi puzzle this week in the New York Times blog Numberplay.
* Send a Pi Day e-card
This isn't a Hallmark holiday. At least, not yet, but these e-cards are easy way to let that special someone know you're thinking about the on this momentous occasion. Too much? Sorry.
* Play Pi Ball.
I'd never heard of Pi Ball before now, but turns out it's like volleyball, but on a circular court. Learn to how to play this game invented in South Africa here.
* Check out this video that represents Pi visually:
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