This Wednesday is Pi Day, and a great reason to celebrate the fun (and delicious) side of math with kids!
The number pi is symbolized by the Greek letter π. It begins with 3.141592653… and extends infinitely beyond those digits. Why is this particular number significant? If you measure the circumference of a circle, and then divide that number by the circle’s diameter, the resulting number will always be pi. Whether you are measuring a dime, the rim of a cereal bowl, or Earth itself, the result will always be pi! Due to its infinite length, it is impossible to know the exact number π in its entirety. So far, humans have calculated π to beyond one trillion digits!
People around the world celebrate this interesting number on March 14th (3/14). Every year, contests are held to determine who can correctly recite the most digits of pi. Celebrators may organize pi parties or print “π” t-shirts. Some people organize pi-themed scavenger hunts, in which hunters may be given a list like 3 rulers, 1 calculator, 4 pencils…. Cyclists may go on 3.14-mile long bike rides. The fact that the number pi shares its name with one of the world’s most beloved sweet treats is not lost on Pi Day celebrators! Many people organize pi[e]-baking parties or pi[e]-eating contests on this day. Some pie shops and pizza restaurants offer slices of pie at the price of $3.14.
There are about as many ways to celebrate Pi Day as there are digits in the number pi! Here are 3.14 ideas for celebrating the wonders of both pi and pie with your kids:
1. Get creative and write some pi-ku poems
A pi-ku is like a haiku poem. But, instead of the classical arrangement of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables in three lines, a pi-ku is arranged in 3 syllables, 1 syllable, and 4 syllables, to reflect the digits of pi. They can be serious, silly, or simple, and they are easy to write. Here’s an example:
Math is fun
Pie is more fun!
Cut large (pie-shaped) circles out of construction paper and have the kids write their pi-kus on them. Then, you can display the poems on the fridge or on a wall!
2. Bake a pie
Involving your kids in a baking project is a great way to apply their budding arithmetic skills to real, everyday life. Encourage the kids to perform the simple counting and measuring needed to figure out how much of each ingredient is needed. They’ll feel so proud of the tasty result! (Of course, supervise your child around sharp utensils, mixers, and the hot oven always.)
Here is a wonderful apple pie recipe created by Rosemary McCormack (the mother of World Book researcher Karen McCormack):
Two prepared pie crusts (for one double-crust 9” pie)
6 to 8 Large Granny Smith apples, and 2 to 3 Honeycrisp apples, for a total of 8 to 10 apples
4 Teaspoons solid butter or margarine
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons milk
Shortening to grease the pan
–First, bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
–Then, bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
–Lastly, bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can tell the pie is ready to come out of the oven when the top crust is a golden brown and you can see apple juice bubbling up through the ventilation holes.
3. Use pi to figure out the circumference of your pie
After the pie has been baked and cooled, use a ruler and a calculator to figure out the circumference of the pie. It’s simple! First, ask your child to measure the width of the pie straight across the middle. This is the pie’s diameter. Multiply the diameter by 3.14. The resulting number is the circumference of the pie. Reward your young mathematician baker with the first slice!
…And idea number 0.14: Have some ice cream on the side!
Why not enhance Pi Day celebrations even further by enjoying your pie and math activities à la mode? A dollop of ice cream always maximizes the fun!
Image credit: © Crystal Eye Studio/Shutterstock