March 14th isn’t just any other day of the week; it’s Pi Day! Classroom teachers across the globe take a break from their regularly scheduled routines to plan a celebration in honor of the number 3.14 or “Pi.” We’ve gathered the best Pi Day activities we could find to help celebrate this epic math day in your classroom.
What is Pi Day?
Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π = 3.14. Pi is often rounded to the number 3.14, but its digits go on forever with no repeating pattern. The first known celebration was held in 1988 by physicist Larry Shaw in the San Francisco Exploratorium. Math teachers saw the benefits of teaching their students about pi while they actually ate pie. Then in 2009, Congress officially declared March 14th National Pi Day. Today, the celebration continues not just in the United States but worldwide.
Pi Day Activities
Pi Day has been celebrated by millions of schools and math lovers worldwide. To celebrate in your classroom, try out these popular, teacher-tested Pi Day activities.
Race to Pi
The goal of this Pi Day game is to be the first person to roll their dice to the first ten digits of pi. To prepare this game, you’ll need ten die for each team or group. You’ll also need a play mat which you can download and print for each player. The first player in the group to roll all the numbers on the mat wins.
Create a Pi-ku
Have students create a pi-ku, which is much like a haiku, but for this activity, the poem has a different number of syllables for each line that is based on the digits of pi. For example, the first line of the poem would have three syllables, the second line would have one syllable, and the third line would have four.
It is so good.
Going along with the theme of the word “pi,” students can vote on their favorite flavor of pie, then figure out the class percentage of each pie that students voted for, then graph the results. To extend the activity even further, you can celebrate with the students actually eating the type of pie that was voted most popular.
Hold a pi-word contest in your classroom. Set the timer for three minutes and fourteen seconds. Challenge students to come up with as many words that start with “pi” as they can in the allotted time. (pizza, pink, pie, etc.) The student with the most words gets to choose the flavor pie that you bring in for the students to eat.
Make a Pi Bracelet
Students can string a pi bracelet out of beads that correspond to the first ten digits of pi. For example, three beads of one color, followed by one bead of another color, then four beads of another color, and so on until they’ve reached the first ten digits of pi. You can also assign each number a color to make it easier for students.
Pi in the Sky
NASA and their space program uses pi in their calculations and have come up with a variety of different Pi Day STEM activities for children. They have activities and problem sets for students of all ages to figure out.
Learn the Pi Secret
Students will get a kick out of this Pi Day activity. The number 314 spells the word “pie” when reflected in the mirror. Share this secret and show students a demonstration to blow their minds.
Have a Pi Party
What’s more fun than a party with foods that start with the letters “pi”? Create a signup sheet and have students bring in different types of food such as pizza, pie, pineapple, and pine nuts. Play pi games like who can memorize the first ten digits of pi the fastest, or have a scavenger hunt where students have to find pi-themed or -related objects around the classroom. You can even have a piñata or pie-eating contest.
Pi Day also happens to fall on Albert Einstein’s birthday (March 14, 1879), so you can have an Einstein impersonator contest or trivia game to see how much your students know about him.
These Pi Day activities are meant to enrich and deepen students’ understanding of the concept of pi π =3.14. Take the time to celebrate this day that brings the math geek out in all of us.
Remote and Virtual Activities for Pi Day
Level up your Pi Day celebrations with these remote and virtual activities.
Join a Virtual Pi Day Party
Discovery Education is inviting you to a virtual Pi Day party on Thursday, March 14 (3.14), at 1 PM Eastern. It’s easy to join, all you have to do is follow @DiscoveryED on Twitter and Facebook, then join in the conversation by sharing your students’ answers to the questions they post using #CelebratewithDE. The Discovery channel will post activities, questions, jokes, and photos and you can follow along and show how you and your students are celebrating.
Hold a Virtual Pi Recitation Contest
How many digits of Pi can you name? Challenge students to see who can recite the most digits from memory. Pi is an irrational number — meaning the numbers never end and never repeat. However, most students are able to remember quite a few digits. Send students to this Pi Day link to play a game and see how many digits they can remember. Then, have the top five students battle it out in front of their classmates over Zoom or Google Classroom to see who can remember the most digits.
Watch a 20 Facts about Pi Video
Have students watch the educational video 20 Facts about Pi on YouTube. Then, depending on how many students you have in your remote classroom, assign each student 1-3 facts and have them record a Flipgrid video of those specific facts they learned. Next, let students review the work of their classmates by having them choose three classmates’ videos to watch. Instruct students to record what they learned in a Google Document.
Go to the Virtual Pi Day Exploratorium
Celebrate online with the Exploratorium. Students can watch 2020’s video, live from the Exploratorium in California. Then, they can grab some toothpicks and follow along with the Estimate π from Toothpicks video to learn a surprising method known as Buffon’s Needles, which allows you to calculate π just like 18th-century French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.
Calculate Pi using Everyday Objects
Challenge students to scour through their household supplies and choose five items to calculate π. For example, students can use drinking glasses, bowls, throw rugs, canned goods, etc. To find π, students will need to divide the circumference of the circle (all the way around the entire circle) by the diameter (the length from one side of the circle to the other). An easy way for students to calculate is to wrap a piece of ribbon around the object then cut it. Next, cut a second piece of ribbon and place it from one end to find the longest straight length possible (the diameter) and cut that piece. Then, students can place the ribbons next to one another to determine their calculations. You can also show students how to find π using everyday objects to help them with their calculations.