Pi Day 2015 Party of the Century
Only once every century is pi day 3.14.15 and this was the year. My math classes celebrated this great day with the Pi day 2015 party of the century, a party that took 2 days of math, included graphing, estimating, angles, measuring, presenting their own projects, and teamwork. I’m not sure which Common Core Math Standards we may have mastered or how this prepared them for PARCC testing, but it was an engaging way to see that math is everywhere.
Sometimes I tend to take a theme a little too far. This might have been one of those times. We mixed concepts of pi with ideas about pie and had fun along the way. I thought last year’s party was great, but this year was even better. After all, pi day 2015 was the pi day of the century!
We started with Estimation 180 to estimate how much of a pie had been eaten in three different examples. This lesson reviewed percents and degrees in a circle and led to the discussion of how estimating the percent will lead to the estimate of the degrees.
The next part of the pi day 2015 party included a survey of all my math classes and their favorite kind of pie. From there, the third graders created a bar graph and the fifth graders created a pie chart. Never pass up an opportunity to practice graphing.
Students viewed a BrainPop video of what pi truly represents. Although most of my students know the term “pi” and are ready to recite the first 10-50 digits, many of them are completely unaware of what pi is. The Brain Pop video explains it perfectly in terms that elementary students understand.
The fifth graders measured the diameter and circumference of plastic container lids to find the ratio. Very few groups found that the ratio was exactly pi and they discussed why. They realize that 5th grade tools such as rulers and string may not be as accurate as they’d expect. Measuring the circles was very engaging as they were very curious to find out if this definition of pi is actually true.
The third and fourth graders created a pi chain where each color represents a digit, showing that there is no pattern in the digits of pi. This project is truly an exercise in teamwork, where small groups of students each create sections of the chain. I stand back and watch this happen as they organize themselves into teams with great purpose. At the end of the school year, we raffle off the chain!
One of the best parts of our pi day 2015 party was the students’ projects. They created a project JFF (just for fun) to show something about pi. This year their projects included stories, videos, T-shirts, necklaces, earrings, fun facts, posters, jokes, and a board game. They came in so excited to share their knowledge with the class. This is a math holiday!
Pi day is one of my favorite school days. It’s a day when we forget about all the other responsibilities that come with teaching and engage in just having fun in a very “mathy” way. This is the day my students will remember!