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Pi for Everyone!

Authored By: 
Linli Chin, Math teacher

Happy π Day!  If you are a numbers geek, you might already know when this day is celebrated. If you don’t, it’s on March 14, which has been designated as National Pi Day (made official by Congress on March 12, 2009).  Pi Day is celebrated all around the world and has a special place at The Beekman School, as well.  I started celebrating it a few years ago, as it was the perfect opportunity to share my love of math, pi, and pie with the students at Beekman.  

We have seen π involved in calculating the area and circumference of circles, but what does it really represent?  When was it first introduced?  What kind of number is it?

π, which is approximately 3.14159, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  Any circle of any size will have this ratio of its circumference to its diameter as a constant value.  This value is an irrational number, which means it never ends and never repeats its sequence.  In fact, there are supercomputers that are continuously calculating the value of pi!

This special ratio has been known for over 4000 years, and its first calculation was done by Archimedes of Syracuse in the early 200s BC by using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the areas of two regular polygons. Mathematicians started using the Greek letter π after it was introduced by William Jones in 1706 (although wasn’t popularized until 1737 by Leonhard Euler).

Now that we know what an amazing number π is, it would be “irrational” if we did not celebrate it every year!  At school, at work, or wherever you are, there are numerous activities that you can engage in to show your love for π, including: reciting the numbers of π from memory to see who can memorize the longest sequence correctly, writing π-kus (haikus about π), telling some π-themed jokes and of course, the best part, enjoying delicious pie!

Have a happy π day!!

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