Estimating Pi in Times of Crisis: Celebrating an Irrational Number in Irrational Times

Coronavirus may be keeping us socially distanced from each other, but it doesn’t have to keep us from connecting virtually while appreciating the beauty of our world! Today is, after all, Pi () Day, an international celebration of everyone’s favorite irrational number. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Today, Pi can help us stave off social isolation by bringing us together (virtually and in our isolation units) to celebrate the beauty and mystery of the natural world. (To learn more about why Pi warrants a celebration, visit https://www.livescience.com/34132-what-makes-pi-special.html.) 

(Oh, and gives us a great excuse to bake and eat some delicious pie–all in the name of math!)

So, grab your notebooks; don your aprons; unearth your pie tins; sharpen your pencils; and, join us as we celebrate Pi Day 2020 with as many estimations as we can conduct and as much pie as we can eat! 

Please share videos or pictures of your estimation process along with your results on the online Pi Day Party via Zoom (https://uasystem.zoom.us/j/684903313), Facebook Group (https://facebook.com/events/s/pi-day-online-only/210804806674901/?ti=ia), or on Twitter (#PiDay2020), and don’t forget to report your Pi Day 2020 Estimations on this Google Doc (LINK). A bonus for creativity in estimation methods!

To get you started, we’ve included some resources with ideas of how to celebrate the day and estimate the ratio here:

  1. Exploratorium Pi Day Celebration Guide

https://www.exploratorium.edu/pi

  1. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Celebrating Pi Day

https://www.nctm.org/piday/

  1. Math is Fun (Approximating Pi)

https://www.mathsisfun.com/activity/pi-approximation.html

And, don’t forget to explore your natural world to see examples of how this irrational number shapes our natural world!

Of course, don’t forget the pie! Make your own pie or crust or fight the panic buyers for the last of the store-bought pies or crusts–all for science! But, if you choose to make your own and don’t have your go-to recipe already, here are some places to start. The bonus for culinary creativity is the deliciousness that results!

  1. https://smittenkitchen.com/2018/10/even-more-perfect-apple-pie/
  2. https://www.foodandwine.com/desserts/pies/delicious-pies-pi-day
  3. https://www.southernliving.com/desserts/pies/best-pie-recipes-pi-day 

Happy Eating and Estimating!

#PiDay2020, mathematics, baking, family, science, nature

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