(3.)14 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day (Besides Eating a Big Slice of Pie!)
Whether you're Team Cake or just watching your sugar intake, you can still party like a Mathlete.
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How did Pi Day get started?
Every March 14 we gather our loved ones to crack pi jokes and celebrate Pi Day, a holiday dedicated to…what is pi exactly? The short answer is when you divide any circle’s circumference by its diameter the answer is always approximately 3.14, or π. In 1988 physicist Larry Shaw decided this enigmatic number deserved its own holiday and started Pi Day, choosing March 14 to represent the first three digits of pi and because it also happens to be Einstein’s birthday. (Einstein did not discover pi but he had a thing for mathematical constants and we’re sure he liked this one just fine.) It an incredibly interesting number—and there are plenty of other pi facts to discover as you celebrate this day.
But why are we having a party for a number?
So why are we celebrating a made-up holiday for a number nobody completely understands in the first place? It’s cool because pi actually goes on for an infinite amount of digits and speaks to the mysteries that the human mind has yet to discover. Okay, and also because pi sounds like a delicious dessert and any excuse to eat pie is a good one, even math.
Not everyone loves pie, however. So whether your Team Cake or just watching your sugar intake, we found 14 other fun ways to celebrate Pi Day.
Do something irrational
Calling all unapologetic weirdos: Pi is an irrational number—meaning a real number that cannot be written as a fraction—so it makes sense to celebrate by not making sense. Wear your socks on your hands, eat dinner for breakfast, hand out Valentines or do any other weird, irrational, thing that strikes your fancy!
Watch an adventurous movie
Forget math and go for a different kind of pi by watching Life of Pi, an award-winning movie based on a book about a young man who survives a disaster at sea only to be thrown into an epic adventure with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger. It’s perfect for a multigenerational Pi Day party as there’s something in this story that will resonate with people of all ages and stages of life.
Play a game of “pi toss”
The existence of π and an estimation of its value was discovered centuries before computers…but how? One way was via a technique called Buffon’s Needles that involves throwing toothpicks. Learn how to play this simple game and “discover” pi with a tutorial from the Exploratorium museum, linked underneath the “sources” section of this article.
Send a coded letter in Pilish
There’s a whole language made from the number pi, named “Pilish.” In Pilish, the length of words match the numbers as written in the sequence of digits in pi. Leanring how to write in this elegant but elusive style is a must for pi lovers!
Serve up a pizza pi(e)
Feeling more savory than sweet? Many pizzerias offer special Pi Day pizza specials with toppings in the shape of the famous symbol. Or you can make your own adorable and healthy fresh veggie pizza pi(e)s. If you’re feeling particularly punny, you can order a deep-dish pizza pie.
Wear a punny shirt
An easy way to show both your love of math and your sense of humor is to celebrate Pi Day with a punny shirt. Some of our favorites: “Love is like pi: Real irrational and never-ending” “Cutie π” and “√-1 2^3 ∑ π (and it was delicious).” Or come up with your own creative slogan and use fabric markers to design a shirt!
Challenge your friends with pi trivia
Did you know that the Great Pyramids of Giza were actually built on the principles of pi? Or that there’s a cologne named Pi that is marketed as increasing your intelligence? Now you know (in case they come up in future trivia games.)
Make Pi cookies
Not a pie fan? You can celebrate with Pi (or pie) cookies instead! If you’re fancy, make cookies that look like miniature pies. Or, you can make pi-shaped cookies.
Host a Greek feast
The first calculation of π was done by the famous Greek mathematician Archimedes, of Syracuse (287–212 BC). To honor his genius and ingenuity—no calculators or computers then!—celebrate Pi Day with traditional Greek foods like gyros, (pita sandwiches), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), moussaka (an eggplant casserole), or souvlaki (meat skewers). And honey-soaked baklava is an excellent dessert if you’re looking for an alternative to eating pie.
See how many digits of pi you can memorize
As of 2019, π has been calculated to 31.4 trillion digits. While a trillion, or even a million, digits is far too much for the human mind to handle, you can probably memorize a lot more than you think—Akira Haraguchi holds the current world record for memorizing pi by reciting a mind-blowing 111,700 digits! Here are the first 1 million digits to get you started.
Start a Pi Parade
Normal parade routes usually go from point A to point B but on Pi Day it’s only fitting that it goes in a circle. Invite your friends and family to come decked out in their finest “pi” style, hold pi signs, and march in a circle. End with—what else?—pie!
Learn to code on a Raspberry Pi
A Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It’s tiny but it’s a fantastic intro to the world of coding, allowing people of all ages to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games. You can buy a starter kit on Amazon.
Explore infinity with a tricky craft
Pi is an infinite decimal, meaning that after the decimal point the numbers go on forever. Infinity can be a tricky concept to understand, especially for kids. You can teach the concept of infinity and do a fun craft by making a Mobius strip out of paper with a different pattern or color on each side. Another option is to introduce kids to the mind-bending world of M.C. Escher and try to work your way through one of his infinite drawings.
Go on a π scavenger hunt
The symbol for pi, π, appears in a lot of places besides math textbooks! Since pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter you can look for examples of perfect circles in your home, in nature, in art, in science, and in literature. You never realize how big a part pi plays in your everyday life until you start really looking for it.