Heads-up, basketball fans, the month of March serves up an entirely different celebration! March 14 is Pi Day, a celebration of all things devoted to the simple universal mathematical truth about circles, that pi equals the circle’s circumference divided by its diameter. And it always comes out to (about) 3.14.
For young elementary students, that can be quite the abstract concept to wrap their minds around, especially if they don’t know division. If you’re seeking maths-themed activities that feel fun and inclusive to kids, there are plenty of things to latch on to well before they’re ready to grasp the full meaning of pi. For example, pi is always, always the same number, whether the circle is big or small. It’s a maths problem that always has the same answer! It has its own symbol, which is π, a Greek letter of the alphabet. And it has a series of numbers that march on into the infinite, without end.
There’s something comforting about these mathematical constants.
To celebrate Pi Day in proper fashion, here are a few ideas. Of course, every fun celebration should have food. So be sure and include pie.
The pi classic: We can credit the original Pi Day celebration, which took place in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium, to a physicist named Larry Shaw. That March 14, starting at 1:59 p.m., he led museumgoers in circle walks, got them to show off their feats of memorization by recalling as much of the pi sequence as they could and served up slices of pie. From there, a maths holiday was born.
Pi city build: There are plenty of art projects that incorporate numbers and counting, and this project is no different. As presented by the blog What Do We Do All Day?, kids use graphing paper, a copy of the pi sequence and plenty of markers to create a skyline. Add stars and sky, and you have a colorful representation of the pi sequence. For a 3-D variation, create a skyline model using LEGO Bricks. The first structure can be three bricks tall, the second is one brick tall, the third is four, and so on. Create blocks and streets, and before long, you’ll have a downtown Pi City.
Dragon slaying: If you’re hoping to really show kids how pi works, this activity demonstrates the concept of pi with a fun story called Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi, followed by the quickest and simplest of hands-on projects that lets them make sense of what pi is all about. By taking a piece of string that encircles their favorite round snack, you can show how the diameter is just under a third of the radius. Click here for more good reads about pi.
Make some sweet math music: Thanks to the musical renderings of Pi Diddy, whose work appears on TeachPi.org, there’s no reason to leave out song and merriment from your home Pi Day celebration. If your kids are learning instruments, challenge them to create a melody based on the pi digits — assign one digit to a note on the scale and start playing away.
By the way, did you know that March 14 also happens to be Einstein’s birthday? Making STEM activities (science, technology, engineering and math) a part of your time together with your child is a way to “normalize” what can be seen as tough subject matter. If these enriched activities help them ladder up for learning and mastery at school, even better.
Open kids up to further learning and ideas by signing them up for fun and enriching STEM-based activities. Bricks 4 Kidz is celebrating its 10th anniversary of providing fun and enrichment for kids in schools and communities across the United States and beyond. At our camps and after-school classes, kids get to use LEGO Bricks along with specialized LEGO Technic pieces like gears, axles and electric motors to build unique and exciting models, helping kids explore engineering and architecture — while having a blast doing it. To discover Bricks 4 Kidz activities taking place in your area, visit Bricks4Kidz.ie.