Whether you are a student teacher or a veteran teacher, everyone loves Pi — or more specifically Pi Day, the annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is a great opportunity to introduce students to new math concepts and help them understand the subject can be fun and important to their lives.
Pi (π), which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is a constant number, meaning that for perfectly round objects of any size, Pi will always be the same. Pi is used all around us every day from biology (in the study of how DNA folds) to astronomy (where it’s used to find and measure new planets) to navigation (it helps to track how we travel across the globe).
Pi Day is observed on March 14 (or 3/14 in the month/day date format), since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π in decimal form. This year’s Pi Day is extra special — what math enthusiasts call an epic or super Pi Day. At the magic moment when the clock reads 9:26:53 on 3.14.15 the time will correspond perfectly to the first 10 digits of pi (3.141592653)—something that only happens once a century!
People across the nation are ready to celebrate this special occasion. The Arlington Education Foundation, for instance will host a Super Pi Day event where Pi enthusiasts are invited to demonstrations of computer science, engineering and sciences applications and the Ottoson Math Club will demonstrate a variety of π activities.
“Pi Day at Assumption is a light-hearted celebration of this important number and math in general,” notes Assumption Math and Computer Studies Professor Joe Alfano, who is helping to lead the festivities.
“The value of celebrating Pi Day comes in helping people understand that this special number, often under-appreciated, is used in calculations behind the scenes to make up a lot of our modern world…and having actual pie on Pi Day doesn’t hurt either!” his student Evan Villanova agrees. The College will celebrate with an informational booth in the campus center and by offering miniature pies and cupcakes for sale, with the proceeds going toward the College’s Ritzer Scholarship Fund
For Assumption Mathematics and Education double major Ethel McGinn Pi Day is a fun way to help the kids at Doherty Memorial High School, where she student teaches, appreciate that math is all around them. “It’s really awesome to see how much they are gaining confidence in their math skills,” she enthuses, “and I think Pi Day will give them a special reason to celebrate their success in the subject. I hope my students learn that math surrounds us every single day, and it is a valuable subject that all of them can succeed in.”
Assumption works hard to help students like Ethel hone their skills and develop ways to inspire their students though courses like Mathematics in the Elementary Curriculum, where they learn how to design and implement effective and fun lessons that help their students better understand and appreciate the subject. Then, one day, they can bring the fun of events like Pi day to their own kids and students!
You can find a full list of Pi Day celebration resources from The National Education Association.