Saturday, March 14, 2015

Today is Pi day!

The interesting thing about pi day today is that it is celebrating its 27th anniversary.  Today is March 14, 2015 or 3.1415, the first 5 digits of pi.  If you carry it out, then you could celebrate pi day on March 14, 2015 at 9:26:53 either in the morning or afternoon.  The date and time comprise the first 10 digits of pi.  I heard someone once say that pi is a beautiful number because it contains all the birth dates, social securities, phone numbers plus so many other important numbers in the world.  That made it in my eyes, something more exciting than just the number I need to use when calculating the volume of a cylinder.
When you teach math, you end up having students use something to measure the circumference of a circle and a ruler to find the diameter and most of the time, students end up with a number that actually ends because most students do not measure as accurately as they should.  In class we usually end up using a piece of yarn or twine, both of which has a certain amount of stretch.  I've tried a small piece of paper but the students often find it difficult to get it to match the actual circle. 
I am wondering if I can get a small device that would allow me to use some sort of laser to determine the distance around the circle.  I vaguely recall seeing something that looks like a pen light that can do that.  I also wonder how much closer students calculations would be using something like that?
Just for fun the world science festival has 10 trivia questions on pi.  Enjoy!