At the Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies, we think that math is beautiful, essential, practical, and fun.
Pi Day Ideas: 25 Ways to Celebrate
Calling all mathletes, engineers, scientists, and STEM teachers! Calling all math students and statisticians! (Yes, you!) Put down those calculators and tech gadgets, and get ready to celebrate!
Celebrate the Math Constant Whose Fun Never Ends
Whether you're a math nerd or a wannabe, March 14 is our day. It's the time when those of us who dance in the transcendent, resplendent beauty of numbers unite to celebrate our irrational love of pi.
Yes, pi (π) — that funny-looking Greek letter that represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. No matter how large or small a circle is, you can divide the distance around it by the distance across it and get the same cool number. Mindbending, huh? (Let's take a moment.)
Abbreviated as 22/7 or 3.14, pi is a practical, universally applicable, and never-ending constant. Today, we use it in a variety of fields to determine area, surface area, and volume for objects that are
- cone-shaped or
Pi for Days . . . Well, One Day
Examples of disciplines that use it include astronomy, architecture, engineering, navigation, and construction.
To help get your Pi Day celebration off the ground, here are 25 ideas for honoring our favorite constant. Have a STEM-tastic celebration!
1. Write a Pi-Ku or Other Pi-Theme Poetry
Write a "pi-ku," a math version of the traditional haiku. While haiku is a Japanese poem with 17 syllables, broken out in lines of 5-7-5 syllables, the "pi-ku" is even more abbreviated. It follows a 3-1-4 syllabic pattern and enjoys a math-related theme. Here are some original samples to inspire you:
Your problems tease!
2. Pi(e) Naming Contest
Challenge your friends to a pi/e naming contest. Depending on the type of friends you have (mathletes or mere wannabes), see who can name the most types of pie or the most digits of pi. Award a pie or pi-themed prize to the champion.
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3. Eat Round or Pi-Inspired Foods
Why not combine two of your favorite activities—math and eating? There is no shortage of round-shaped foods. Consider round fruits (e.g., oranges, melon balls, bananas sliced in "coins"), round crackers, meatballs, round cookies, cupcakes, etc. To take the math theme one step further, consider the following pi-inspired foods. Some of them are a bit of a stretch, but hey—it's all in good fun!
Suggestions for Pi-Themed Foods
pi-mento cheese sandwiches
4. Play Pi Games
This will take some planning, but the fun will pay out in dividends. Think of the Instagram photos and the memories you'll take away from the event!
- Organize a pie-thowing or pie-in-the-face contest, with proceeds going to charity. Set a fundraising goal of $314, or more!
- Hold a pie speed eating contest, giving contestants 3.14 minutes, all the pie they can eat, with no hands allowed.
- Have "pi-ggyback" races, with two contestants holding a teammate horizontally (more or less forming a π) and racing other teams of three across a finish line.
- Learn to play the card game "pi-nochle" or beat a pi-ñata.
- Challenge yourself to name the digits of pi with an online game, such as the one here. Or, name words that begin with "pi," some as those in the online game here.
5. Hold a Pi Memorization/Recitation Contest
Pi is never ending and has been calculated to trillions of digits. But don't let that stop you from holding a contest to see who among your nerd friends can correctly recite the most digits. To assist in your training, Google even has a training app. Come on! You've got this!
6. Celebrate the Birthday of Albert Einstein
Since March 14 is also Albert Einstein's birthday, give a nod to the Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist and philosopher of science by holding an Einstein look-alike contest and sharing Einstein quotes. There are so many myths about the genius that his birthday would be a fitting day to set the record straight.
7. Impress Your Friends with Pi or Math-Themed Trivia
Dazzle and amaze your friends as well as mere strangers with your knowledge of how pi is useful in geometry, engineering, trigonometry, astronomy, physics, and other endeavors. Point out practical problems that pi helps us solve. Remind them what 22/7 is and why it's important. Spread the enthusiasm!
8. Sponsor a Math Version of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" or "Jeopardy"
In a back-to-basics challenge that features quick thinking, you might be surprised how easily math formulas, definitions, and basic concepts have gotten rusty.
9. Watch a Math-Inspired Movie
There are so many math-related movies to choose from. In the following films, for example, consider the role that math has had in history and in human relationships. Did math ultimately help unite people or separate them? Did it create new opportunities or barriers? (And if so, what kind?) Is it more a gift or a practiced skill? Go ahead—talk about the impact of math in our lives.
Movies With a Math Theme
The Theory Of Everything (2014)
The Imitation Game (2014)
An Invisible Sign (2010)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Stand and Deliver (1988)
A Brilliant Young Mind (2014)
10. Walk, Run, Jog, or Cycle 3.14 Miles
All that calculating can leave you antsy. Grab some friends and get moving! Hold a fundraising event involving 3.14 miles (or km if you wish) and donate the money to charity.
11. Hold a Pi Scavenger Hunt
For each digit of pi, divide your participants into groups and have them take photos of their found objects rather than bringing back actual items. Set a time limit and specify where they're allowed to roam, then disclose your pi scavenger hunt objects.
For the following digits of pi (3.1415926 ), here's an example of objects you might hunt for in a school environment:
- 3 scientific calculators
- 1 high-heeled shoe
- 4 vegetables
- 1 handshake with a teacher
- 5 university jerseys, each a different school
- 9 pennies, stacked
- 2 pipettes
- 6 mechanical pencils.
12. Send a Pi Day Card or Send an E-Card
Spread your infinite love of math with a card you make yourself or with an e-card, available here.
13. Take a Deeper Look at Pi
Write out as many digits of pi as possible and see if you can find you and your friends can find your birth dates, phone numbers, zip codes, social security numbers, and other personally identifying numbers.
14. Estimate Pi by Throwing Frozen Hot Dogs
Estimate pi using Buffon's needle, a problem of geometric probability. For an explanation of what it is, click here. Whether you drop needles or toothpicks on a sheet of paper or throw frozen hot dogs on the floor is up to you.
15. Tell Pi Puns and Math Jokes
Who says math isn't funny? Relax a little and tell a few math jokes. Here are some to help get you started.
15 Pi Puns and Math Jokes to Tell Your Friends
What do you get when you take the sun and divide its circumference by its diameter?
Pi in the sky
What was Sir Isaac Newton's favorite dessert?
What does a mathematician do about constipation?
He works it out with a pencil.
Why is the math book always unhappy?
Because it always has lots of problems
Why did I divide sin by tan?
Why is Ms. Radian such a good reporter?
She covers the story from every angle
What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
Why wasn't the geometry teacher at school?
Because she sprained her angle!
Where do math teachers go on vacation?
To Times Square
Why couldn’t the angle get a loan?
His parents wouldn’t cosine.
Why did the 30-60-90 triangle marry the 45-45-90 triangle?
They were right for each other.
What is polite and works for the phone company?
A deferential operator
What did the complementary angle say to the isosceles triangle?
What do you call a number that can't keep still?
A roamin' numeral
What do you call friends who love math?
16. Entertain Your Friends by Using as Many "pi" Words as Possible Today.
Examples include: pi-lot, pi-zzazz, pi-ous, pi-rate, pi-neapple, pi-lates, etc. Be sure to emphasize the "pi" syllable and keep it up, even if you receive eye rolls. It's one day a year, folks. Your friends can tolerate the math madness for 24 hours.
17. Wear Math-Themed Apparel
There are a number of clever math t-shirts available, as well as pi earrings. Don't be afraid to proclaim yourself a math nerd.
After all, you're in cool company. Think Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steven Hawking, Sergey Brin (Google's co-founder), Marie Curie, and many more. All were math majors in college.
18. Create Your Own Pi Art, or Admire That of Others
Take a camera and explore the world around you. Where can you find the symbol pi? How can you express yourself creatively and artistically in representing the Greek letter or the digits of pi? (Examples of what others have achieved are shown below.) Or, if you prefer, admire the art of Salvador Dali, a famous artist who used the principles of pi and phi in his art.
19. Offer People Pi Trivia and Einstein Quotes Attached to Round Candy
Friends and strangers will be especially eager to welcome your math trivia and Einstein quotes if they accompany round candy. Consider some of the following:
Whoppers (malted milk balls)
balls of bubblegum
20. Promote Pi or Math-Related Books
Advocate learning about math by sharing a pi-themed story with a youngster you know. Popular selections include:
- Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander
- Why Pi? by Johnny Ball
- Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number by Alfred S. Posamentier
- The Joy of Pi by David Blatner
21. Examine the Mindbending Significance of Pi in Nature
Pi can be found, for example, hiding in the double helix of DNA, the rainbow, and the pupils of our eyes. Do some research to uncover pi's impact on the natural world, then share what you've learned with a friend.
22. via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Other Social Media, Share a Personal List of the Top 3.14 Reasons Why You Love Math
Although STEM fields are gaining traction as viable career choices, we have to break through the nonsense that science, technology, engineering, and math are boring and uncreative fields. Share your passion for what you do. Inspire others to ask questions and follow in your footsteps.
23. Learn "The Pi Song"
24. Impress Your Friends with a Pi Temporary Tattoo
You'll be the envy of your math class with a temporary tattoo of the Greek letter. Where you put it is up to you. (Hint: not the forehead. That would be just . . . weird.)
25. Generate Your Own Math-Themed Word Search or Crossword Puzzle
Create your own math-themed puzzle here. Challenge friends with common terminology from geometry, trigonometry, physics, and related fields that use pi. Include famous scientists and mathematicians, architectural wonders based on pi, engineering uses of pi, and more.
Locations With Math-Related Names
Quotes About Math
"Mathematics is the music of reason."
- James Joseph Sylvester, English mathematician
"Without mathematics, there's nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers."
- Shakuntala Devi, Indian writer, and "mental calculator"
"Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas."
- Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist, and philosopher of science
"Mathematics allows for no hypocrisy and no vagueness."
- Stendhal, French writer
"Mathematics is the sister, as well as the servant, of the arts and is touched by the same madness and genius."
- Marston Morse, American mathematician
"Poetry is a form of mathematics, a highly rigorous relationship with words."
- Tahar Ben Jelloun, Moroccan writer
“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.”
- Stan Gudder, American mathematician
“The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.”
- Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher
“The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics.”
- Plato, ancient Greek philosopher
“Yes, we have to divide up our time . . . between our politics and our equations. But to me, our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.”
- Albert Einstein, Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist
Alternative Pi Days and Pi Approximation Days
March 4: When 14% of the 3rd month has elapsed.
July 22: When 22 is divided by 7, it equals 3.14.
April 5: When 3.14 months of the year have elapsed.
November 10: The 314th day of the year (November 9 in leap years).
April 26: The Earth has traveled two radians of its orbit on this day (April 25 in leap years).
December 21, 1:13 p.m.: The 355th day of the year (December 20 in leap years),
© 2015 Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies
Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies (author) from Virginia on March 09, 2016:
Craan - Sounds perfect to me! No need to do pi-lates after that! Have a great day! Thanks for reading.
Sheila Craan from Florida on March 08, 2016:
I'll celebrate PI Day with a delicious piece of pineapple and pistachios.
Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies (author) from Virginia on March 15, 2015:
They do look good, don't they?
peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 14, 2015:
i want the pi pies, so tempting