PI Day 2016
By: Mary Kienstra on: March 18, 2016 in: Engagement, pi day, pi day party, Uncategorized
The PI Day Party is a tradition in my class. Kids look forward to it all year long. I can only hope that my students enjoy it as much as I do! The excitement began to build a week in advance as the kids were assigned a pi day project. It’s JFF – just for fun – no grades, no rubrics, just bring in something interesting about pi to share with the class.
The PI Day party always starts with the students’ projects. This is the part of the party where these kids amaze me with their fabulous creativity. This year the projects ranged from home-made shirts to fun facts to stories and poems. One group had the whole class divided into groups and presented a game show in the style of Family Feud. The whole class eagerly played their game. Another student printed 2016 digits of pi. Always a highlight.
Every year I show the kids a presentation that includes pi cartoons as well as real information about pi. Most of my students know that pi day is a party in math class, but don’t truly know what pi represents. Even though pi is not a standard in the CCSS Math standards for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, exposure to pi is my goal. Brainpop has an informative pi video presentation that teaches pi at a level appropriate for elementary aged kids. After all, how can I justify a 2 day math party if I don’t include any real math?
The student activities began when third and fourth graders created a pi chain, where each each color represents a digit of pi. Students LOVE this activity. They created a chain with over 900 links. Next, they estimate the length of the chain and then do some measuring. Yes, we can link anything to math standards.
The next day they estimated the length of the pi chain and then measured – in inches, feet, and yards. Kids developed their own strategies and compared results. It was especially fun to drag all 95 feet of the chain out into the hall and organize the measuring. Teamwork at its best.
Fifth graders found pi by measuring circles. They worked in teams to measure the diameter and circumference of a variety of lids/circles. Working with the circles helps the students realize that pi is not just a fun fact, but truly the ratio of circumference to diameter. The discussion included the idea that their “fifth grade tools” were not accurate enough to find the ratio to be exactly 3.14.
The kids are still buzzing about the pi day activities. Sometimes school just seems too serious. We have to take time to have a bit of math fun on this very special math holiday, pi day 2016.