be well-rounded….CELEBRATE   PI  DAY !!!!

What’s 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 (1706) 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 found 22 trillion (and counting) decimal places of pi!


What’s “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 “month/day/year” way of writing dates is used mainly in the United States (and Belize), making Pi Day a fairly distinctive American holiday!

Pi Day SONGS: 

I wrote “American Pi(click HERE to hear a demo recording and click HERE for the lyric and lesson) to present historical highlights (and mnemonic for the first 6 significant figures) of the number pi, and may be sung to the tune of Don McLean’s #1 hit “American Pie”. Varying versions have appeared in several books and journals and a rockin’ partial rendition by Calvin Coolidge (a band of then-high schoolers in Cleveland) appears at   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).

• I wrote Circle Song to help secondary school students recall –and distinguish-- the two most common formulas associated with circles.  Click HERE to hear my demo recording, or HERE to see a video and read my lyric and accompanying commentary in Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.

* I wrote “Pi Will Go On” the tune of Celine Dion’s biggest hit “My Heart Will Go On” (the song went to #1 all over the world as one of the all-time best-selling singles) by Will Jennings and James Horner.  Rational numbers (e.g., Ľ = .25 or 1/6 = .16666….) have decimal expansions that terminate or go into a repeating pattern, but because pi was proven to be irrational, its decimal representation “will go on”, which inspired me to revise the song from the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic. Click HERE to hear my demo recording and read my lyric and accompanying commentary in Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.

my favorite pi songs by others: (also, see ; ; ; ;
Pi day RADIO SCRIPT: listeners of NPR-station KTEP (88.5 FM) have heard several mid-March airings of my special “Pi Day” edition of the “Desert Diaries” show, which is archived on the Centennial Museum’s website:

resource ARTICLES for 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. 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. I published related articles in The Jewish Educator and Journal of Mathematics Education.  

classroom COMICS activity: my “Cartoon Corner” in the March 2007 Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 12(7), pp. 383, 387

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” in the Nov. 2008 Adults Learning Mathematics International Journal, 3(2b), 36-52. 


Pi Day Outreach:  I’ve helped produce pi day events for elementary school students (e.g., Canutillo ES; see, for example, the article starting on p. 36 of, middle school students (e.g., Henderson MS, as on p. 13 of; EPJA, see or, high school students (e.g., Emery HS in Houston; see article starting on p. 6 of, and college students (e.g., with the UTEP Math Dept's undergraduate math club, Club Zero: see, for example, the last page of Finally, I was announced by “Math Matters at Taylor & Francis” social media on 4/8/15 as a winner of its 2015 Pi Day (of the Century) haiku contest for this entry, which I later published in Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (see p. 456 of

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:


UTEP Facebook post (2017, March 14).

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,

UTEP News (2015, March 16). Math song wins on pi day of the century. (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

Candelaria posted at

Rodriguez, Ashlie (2015, March 14, at 5:14pm, 6:09pm, 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 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

Adriana Candelaria posted at

“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.