March 14 is International Pi Day—3/14, get it?—and it’s rather nice to have a holiday with an educational flavor. Some schools and afterschool programs are taking advantage of the occasion by having pi-related activities. If math concepts and pi celebrations are your thing, you might consider volunteering your time to work with kids in school or afterschool programs or by helping to support kids charities like Kars For Kids or Unicef.
Here are five great ways to celebrate pi, as a classroom or afterschool program theme:
Pi-eating contest: Have the children see how much pie they can eat. Winner gets a pair of pi earrings or perhaps a pi t-shirt! It’s not that this activity will teach kids much about pi, but that it will generate enthusiasm for the subject. In many ways, that is the key to educating our youth. Inspiring kids is half the battle. Or perhaps not quite half—as Thomas Alva Edison used to say, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Pi-Reciting Contest: Tell students about some of the biggest names in pi; those earnest geniuses who can memorize long strings of pi numbers. The current world record is held by Chao Lu, PiWorldRankingList.com states that the Chinaman recited 67,890 pi digits over the course of one 24-hour period. Second place goes to Krishnan Chahal. From India, Chahal managed to recite a “mere” 43,000 digits of pi back in the year 2006. Next, see how many digits of pi the students can reel off before getting stuck.
Pi Activities: The book Piece of Pi is filled with all sorts of brain-busting games related to the number pi. Enrich math class by choosing a few of the activities to show the kids that math can be fun. Just one example: the book shows how to calculate one’s hat size using pi.
High-Pi: Teach kids the Geek Salute, also known as “High-Pi.” It’s like the High Five slap but with thumb and pinkie tucked in. It’s just awkward enough to be embarrassing but maybe cool, too (or should that be “kewl?”). Besides, everyone knows that geeks rule. They’re the ones who do all the techie stuff and make our computers work.
Watch Life of Pi: The movie is a thrilling way for kids of all ages to spend a morning or an afternoon and the movie is P-G, so appropriate for kids with an adult on hand for guidance. Lead the kids in a discussion after the movie. There are so many good life lessons in Life of Pi.