be well-rounded….CELEBRATE PI DAY !!!!
what is pi? Pi comes from dividing the distance around a circle (i.e., circumference) by the greatest distance across that circle (i.e., diameter), and that result is the same number no matter how large the circle is. Even though this relationship has been known for thousands of years, it was only 3 centuries ago that the Greek letter π (pi, the first letter of the Greek word for “surrounding perimeter”) was introduced. Pi is an irrational number and so it cannot be written as a fraction and its decimal representation never stops or repeats. Computers have now computed over 12 trillion decimal places of pi so far.
what is “Pi Day”? We can write March 14 as 3-14, and 3.14 is the beginning of that special number pi. Since 1988 (thanks to physicist Larry Shaw of San Francisco’s Exploratorium), math classes, math clubs, and museums from coast to coast have observed each March 14 as PI DAY, a chance to celebrate not just pi, but also the too-often-unsung beauty and connections of all math in our world. By passing House Resolution 224 in 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives enshrined March 14 as “Pi Day” to encourage “schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.” Pi Day 2015 was “Pi Day of the Century” because the date 3/14/15 is the only one this century that contains not just three, but the first five digits of pi! This way of writing dates is used mainly in the United States (a rare exception: Belize), making Pi Day a distinctively American holiday!
my favorite Pi Day SONGS: (one may be a winner in the National Museum of Mathematics’ contest in honor of 2015’s “Pi Day of the Century”!)
• I wrote “American Pi” (see http://educationforatoz.com/images/2015_Larry_Lesser.pdf for a lyric or click HERE to hear a demo recording) to present historical highlights (and a mnemonic for the first 6 significant figures) of the number pi, ranging from an implied value in the Bible to the Indiana legislature’s 1897 consideration of a bill that implicitly set pi equal to 4 [see Arthur Hallerberg's article "Indiana's Squared Circle" in the May 1977 Mathematics Magazine], and may be sung to the tune of Don McLean’s #1 hit “American Pie” (that was returned to the charts by Madonna in 2000). Varying versions have appeared in several books and journals, such as the February 2006 MAA Horizons and a rockin’ rendition by Calvin Coolidge (a band of then-high schoolers in Cleveland) appears at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll_45NomcFk or http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9202713347829076799&hl=en. On 3/14/15, the National Museum of Mathematics announced that my song won its “Pi Day of the Century” song contest, and this yielded media coverage (see bottom of this webpage) as well as an article in Journal of Mathematics Education: http://educationforatoz.com/images/2015_Larry_Lesser.pdf
• I wrote “Circle Song” (http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/circlesong.html) to help secondary school students recall –and distinguish-- the two most common formulas associated with circles. Appears on p.6 of Fall 2004 Texas Mathematics Teacher. Click HERE to hear my demo recording, or HERE to see a video.
my favorite pi songs by others: facstaff.bloomu.edu/kferland/Pi_Songs/songs.html
; teachpi.org/music/rap.htm ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZSHr5E7fZY
resource ARTICLES for classroom teachers: Check out my article “Slices of Pi: Rounding Up Ideas for Celebrating Pi Day” in pages 6-11 of the fall 2004 Texas Mathematics Teacher, which you can find here: http://tctmonline.org/TCTMdrupal/sites/default/files/docs/TMT_archive/TMT_2000s/TMT_2004_Fall.pdf. Also of interest is Sandra A. Daire’s Pi Day article “Celebrating Mathematics All Year ‘Round” in the March 2010 Mathematics Teacher, 103(7), 509-513: http://www.nctm.org/eresources/article_summary.asp?URI=MT2010-03-509a&from=B. I published related articles in the Winter 2013 The Jewish Educator (http://thejewisheducator.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/lesser1.pdf) and the December 2015 Journal of Mathematics Education (http://educationforatoz.com/images/2015_Larry_Lesser.pdf).
pi day RADIO SCRIPT I wrote: listeners of NPR-station KTEP (88.5 FM) have heard several mid-March airings of a special “Pi Day” edition of the “Desert Diaries” show, which is archived on the Centennial Museum’s website: http://museum2.utep.edu/archive/math/DDpiday.htm
pi day classroom COMICS activity I wrote: “Cartoon Corner” on p. 383 & 387 of the March 2007 (12(7)) Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School
RESEARCH ARTICLE I co-wrote about family math nights which featured pi activities: “Parent Power Nights: A Vehicle for Engaging Adults/Families in Learning Mathematics.”(Nov. 2008) Adults Learning Mathematics International Journal, 3(2b), 36-52. http://www.alm-online.net/images/ALM/journals/almij-volume3_2_b_nov2008.pdf
my Pi Day Outreach: Over the years, I’ve helped produce pi day events for elementary students (e.g., Canutillo ES; see, for example, the article starting on p. 36 of http://www.alm-online.net/images/ALM/journals/almij-volume3_2_b_nov2008.pdf), middle school students (e.g., Henderson MS, as on p. 13 of http://mikestoneblog.com/_portfolio_page/multimedia/magazines-newspapers/magazine-props-for-kids-1.pdf; EPJA, see http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/EPJA2008piday.gif or https://thejewisheducator.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/lesser1.pdf), high school students (e.g., Emery HS in Houston; see the article starting on p. 6 of http://tctmonline.org/TCTMdrupal/sites/default/files/docs/TMT_archive/TMT_2000s/TMT_2004_Fall.pdf), and college students (e.g., with the UTEP Math Dept's undergraduate math club, Club Zero: see, for example, the last page of http://www.math.utep.edu/dept/maxima/MaximaFall07.pdf). Finally, I was announced by “Math Matters at Taylor and Francis” social media as a winner of its 2015 Pi Day haiku (“pi-ku”?) contest for this entry: In America, Pi Day of the Century….was transcendental!
a pi-pourri of other links:
the 2012 movie Life of Pi is based on a book about which mathematical questions are posed in “Slices of Pi: Rounding Up Ideas for Celebrating Pi Day” in pages 6-11 of the fall 2004 Texas Mathematics Teacher, which you can find here: http://tctmonline.org/downloads/TMT_Journal/TMT_Fall_04.pdf.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF MY ACTIVITIES RELATED TO PI DAY:
Herrera, Valerie (2015, April 7). Professor wins pi day of the century contest. The Prospector, 100(23), 9.
Cohen, C. G. (2015, April). Larry Lesser wins ‘Pi Day of the Century’ song contest. The Jewish Voice, p. 14.
Masterson, Veronique (2015, March 20). [story on my winning national pi day song contest was the closing
(and longest) story that week] UTEP Headlines Video Newscast, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuaXz3sIcMc
UTEP News (2015, March 16). Math song wins on pi day of the century. http://news.utep.edu/?p=29484
Facebook.com/UTEPMiners (2015, March 14, 3:14pm). 2:38 video posted of me explaining Pi Day
Lopez, Meghan (2015, March 14, at 9:10pm). KFOX-TV newscast, with online story by Adriana
Rodriguez, Ashlie (2015, March 14, at 5:14pm, 6:09pm, and 10:09pm). ABC-affiliate KVIA-TV newscast
Wadsworth, Ford (2015, March 22-28). Pi news [Whispers column]. El Paso Inc., 21(30), 7A.
Martinez, Aaron (2015, March 15). UTEP professor wins songwriting contest [18 column inches]. El Paso
Times, 135(74), B1. [story also appeared online at http://elpasotimes.com/news/ci_27713752/utep-professor-wins-pi-day-century-songwriting-contest the day before with same text but with different headline]
Lopez, Meghan (2015, March 14, at 10:15pm). CBS-affiliate KDBC-TV newscast, with online story by
“El Paso Jewish Academy to Celebrate its First Pi Day!” (April 2008). The Jewish Voice, p. 19.
“Pi x 300 years = fun for Canutillo students”, March 3, 2006, El Paso Times, 126(62), p. B6 West.
“Celebrating Pi”, March 15, 2006 UTEP Horizons Online News, Que Pasa.
“Pi Day” segment (including interview with me) from Canutillo ES on 10pm newscast on El Paso’s CBS-affiliate KDBC-TV on March 1, 2006; also, on El Paso’s KINT-TV (Univision, Channel 26).
“Henderson Middle” (June 2005), El Paso PROPS Magazine, p. 15
“Pi Day Celebration” (May 2005), Newsletter of Greater El Paso Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 4(5), 1-2.