March 14: for many, it’s a day used as an excuse to eat an assortment of pie or circular foods. But for mathematicians and math enthusiasts alike, it’s an exciting day of math-related fun. In case you have no clue what I am talking about, March 14 is Pi Day, the annual celebration of the mathematical symbol pi.
It was first founded in 1988 by physicist Larry Shaw. March 14 was specifically chosen because it represents the first three digits of pi, 3.14. The Exploratorium, a San Francisco-based interactive science museum (and Shaw’s place of employment), held the first ever celebration with a circular parade and eating of fruit pies. Pi Day became an official nationally recognized holiday in 2009 when the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation.
But you may be wondering, what’s the big deal? Greek mathematician Archimedes is most commonly known for being the first to calculate the estimated value of pi. Pi is an irrational, transcendental number that continues on and on for infinity. Or as Brynn Holland says, “the pi-ssibilities are endless!”
The number that never seems to end is abbreviated for problem solving with the first three digits 3.14 or the fraction 22/7. Pi holds major importance with circles because it is the consistent ratio of a circle circumference to its diameter. It is also incredibly valuable in engineering, allowing the math for modern construction to happen.
So with a little history of Pi Day, now it’s your turn to make it a fun day to add to your celebrations. There are so many incredible activities to participate in besides the typical eating of pie or various circular foods. To bring out your competitive side, with your friends see who can name the most digits of pi; the person who names the least has to buy the winner a circular food of their choice. Or, for even more fun, have a scavenger hunt and see who can find the most circular items in a room or even around campus. Take a picture with the items or make a list as proof.
For those who enjoy showing their more creative side there are also some fun pi activities for you. With your friends, see who can come up with the best pi day jokes or in other words dad jokes. One of my favorites is, Why did pi fail its driving test?… Because it didn’t know when to stop. Another fun activity is to write poems with each line using the number of words in the sequence of pi. It is truly the ultimate challenge.
If you would prefer a more lowkey Pi-related activity, my suggestion is to watch The Life of Pi or science and math related films such as Hidden Figures and Apollo 13. Or maybe even films related to pie like American Pie or Waitress.
Whatever activity you participate in, make it a great day to recognize a number that we often fail to realize has such a major impact on our lives.