Mathtastic Pi Day Activities
Pi Day (3/14) celebrates pi, the mathematical constant used to find the circumference of a circle. When you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter, the result is pi. As of 2019, Google mathematician Emma Haruka Iwao calculated the value of pi up to 31.4 trillion place values. That’s something to celebrate!
Here are some fun activities to teach your class about pi and celebrate its uses!
1. Buffon’s Needle Problem
The oldest known game involving pi is Buffon’s Needle Problem. In the 1700s, a French nobleman named Count Buffon observed that a popular game of chance could help calculate the value of pi.
To try his experiment, toss some pencils on a sheet of lined paper. Next, count how many pencils you tossed, as well as how many of those pencils touch a line on the paper. Dividing these two numbers will give you an answer close to pi!
Try Buffon’s Needle Problem as a contest- whoever can calculate the most digits of pi from their pile of toothpicks wins!
2. Pi Art
Many artists have used pi as an inspiration for their artwork. For example, pop artist Michael Albert makes collages using the digits of pi, and has reached up to 777 so far.
For a creative spin on Pi Day, encourage students to create artwork of their own. Here are some ideas:
- Print out our free coloring sheets and encourage your students to get creative with decorating pi!
- Have your students make their own versions of Michael Albert’s pi collage.
- Make art out of Buffon’s Needle by tracing where the toothpicks fall or drawing circles around them!
3. Pi Day Crafts
Try doing some crafts with your class to celebrate Pi Day. As a class, have your students write the numbers of pi on a paper chain. Connect the chains with tape or a glue stick and see how many links you can make.
To get your whole school involved, assign everyone a number and have them line up to make a pi chain! The world record for the longest pi chain contained 667 links in 2011. See if your school can beat that!
For a fun individual activity, make Pi Day bracelets! Assign each number from 1 to 9 a different color bead. Have students string the beads together in a pattern that matches the digits of pi. Add a pi symbol charm to tie the bracelet together!
4. Celebrate Einstein’s Birthday
Pi Day is also renowned physicist Albert Einstein’s birthday! Spend some time teaching your students about Einstein’s contributions to science and mathematics.
Interestingly, pi plays a role in Einstein’s equation to calculate gravity. (gravity) = 8πG, or “gravity equals 8 times pi times the constant G.”
5. Pi Day Math Movement
Test your students’ knowledge of the digits of pi with this fun math movement!
- Divide your class into groups of 9 students.
- Give each student a number card indicating their number from 1-9.
- The student with the ‘3’ card will start by saying “three” and jumping up.
- Everyone says, “point.”
- The student holding the ‘1’ card will jump and say their number.
- Continue through the digits of pi until they don’t know the order anymore.
- For younger students, give them a guide with the digits of pi to follow along with.