Happy 25th National Pi Day, Math Teachers (and Other Number-philes)!

By Francesca Duffy — March 14, 2013 1 min read
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Math teachers, take note—today is the 25th anniversary of National Pi Day, which recognizes the mathematical constant pi (Π). According to National Geographic, the first celebration in honor of the never-ending number, which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, took place in 1988 when Larry Shaw, a physicist at the Exploratorium, the San Francisco science museum, noticed that the March 14 date shared the first three digits of pi, 3.14. He began a tradition of celebrating the day by ordering pie for the staff.

This year, the Exploratorium will celebrate by holding a “pi parade.” Hundreds of participants will march, and each will hold a digit of pi, reports PBS Newshour.

Schools have taken to celebrating the day, too. The San Jose Mercury News reports that at Mission High School in the San Francisco Bay area, students are having a contest to see who can recite the most digits of pi (3.14159265 ... ). Students will also get a chance to compose “piems,” which are “poems that use words that have the same number of letters as the corresponding digit of pi,” and to calculate “the volume of baked pies before eating them.”

And according to Florida Today, student pi activities this afternoon at Cocoa High School in Cocoa, Fla., included “measuring each other’s heads to see how close they are to a true circle,” and wearing an “I’m a Pi head” sticker if the measurement was close to 3.14.

Coincidentally, Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Though National Pi Day ends soon, rest assured that July 22, which marks Pi Approximation Day (since the approximate value of pi is 22/7, or the European notation of that date), is just a few months away ...

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.