Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pi Day Activities!

By Cassandra Hatfield, RME Assessment Coordinator and Dawn Woords, RME Elementary Math Coordinator

Mathematician: Pi r squared 
Baker: No! Pie are round, cake are square!

Are you looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Pi Day in your classroom? If so, here is an assortment of resources, visuals, and activities that incorporate pi.

Pi in a Musical Sequence
With student selected musical notes, Pi in a Musical Sequence converts the first 10,000 digits of pi into a musical sequence, allowing for students to “hear” that the value of pi does not have a pattern. If you have students who are visual learners, you could adapt this activity by having 10 students sit in chairs at the front of the class with a paper labeled with the digits in order from 0-9. As you (or the class) recite the digits of pi, have each child stand up when they hear their digit called.

A Visual of Pi
For a great discussion opener, show students this animation of pi that illustrates the relationship between circumference and diameter without directly showing the diameter.
Taken from Wikipedia Commons  - Pi Unrolled Slow

Discovering Pi 
This NCTM Illuminations Lesson, geared for middle school and up, has students measure the circumference and diameter of circular objects. Then students calculate the ratio of circumference to diameter and find the average in attempt to discover the value of pi. This activity can be extended to include a technology application by having students calculate the ratio of circumference to diameter then create a scatter plot and find the line of best fit.

Discover the Formula for the Area of Pi
This NCTM Illuminations Lesson encourages students to develop the formula for the area of a circle. You can use the activity sheets in the lesson or paper plates work well too!

We also found a great video from Yummy Math where the area of a circle is explored. You can find that video here. 

Hats Off to Pi
Here is a lesson we wrote up to use for Pi Day with Grades 5-8. How are hat sizes determined? Once students have discovered pi we’ve written an extension activity to have them discover that hat sizes are actually the diameter of their head!

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