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By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
Math geeks everywhere will be rejoicing on March 14. What’s so special about the day? It’s “Pi Day!” Around the world, some people celebrate Pi Day on March 14th (or 3/14). Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the mathematical symbol that represents a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. “Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point,” says the Pi Day website (yup, there’s an official website!). “As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.”
You can read a fun history of Pi Day here. Pi Day may still be mostly a fun thing among geeks everywhere, but it’s becoming a way to get others interested in math. Some places even have fun celebrations. The Museum of Mathematics in New York City, the nation’s only math museum hosts a daylong event for it!
UPDATE MARCH 13: EVENT CANCELLED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SCARE — So, are you now ready to celebrate? You don’t have to travel anywhere for it: our own Children’s Science Center hosts a Pi Day event on Saturday, March 14, 2020. The Center’s facility in Fairfax, The Lab, will have math-based activities in honor of Pi Day. The day also kicks off two weeks tying math to March Madness basketball championship games. With “Math Madness” you can use free throws to gain an understanding behind the statistics of basketball. All activities included with general admission to the Lab.
Pi Day at home
And right in your own house you can continue the celebrations. Below are some quick and easy ideas for fun math-themed activities, games, foods, and more you can do at home with family members of any age.
EAT PIE: This is the most obvious one: celebrate Pi Day with a pie! Make it a fun learning experience for the younger kids by showing how the various ways you could cut up a pie can represent division. Make it a little more challenging by trying to divide the pie or the individual slices into 3.14 pieces. Bonus points if you make a “Pi Pie” (see page above)! Extra bonus points is you use a Pi Pie dish! Not up for baking? Then why not support a local bakery getting your favorite pie treat, or just order a pizza pi(e)?
PLAY MATH GAMES: Use Pi Day to play number-based games. Some traditional, non-electronic ones include dominoes, card games, Yahtzee and other dice games, or Monopoly. For the newer generation, Common Sense Media has a good list of Math Apps and Learning Tools for Kids and sites such as Cool Math for Kids have free online games. Of course ,Google Play and iTunes also have plenty of apps. For smaller kids, give them a ruler or measuring tape and let them go around the house measuring things, have them match up numbers, or see some videos of the Sesame Street Count. And for all ages, be sure to see all the great ideas for Pi Day celebrations submitted by readers of the Pi Day site.
BE SILLY: Pi may be a serious number, but you don’t have to be. Celebrate the “irrational” number by being a little “irrational” yourself, having silly fun: have breakfast for dinner, let the kids put the grown-ups to bed, wear costumes around the house… you get the idea.
Happy Pi Day!
PS – Keep your kids interested in math and science all year long — see our Science and Technology Fun page!