Celebrate Pi Day in a Whole New Way

, former deputy director, Center for Science & Democracy | March 14, 2012, 9:59 am EDT
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In honor of Pi Day, I made a giant Rice Krispie Treat Pi:

Pi Day Rice Krispie Treat

People make all kinds of pies, and people make all kinds of cakes, but I decided to branch out. (I could only find one other Rice Krispie Treat Pi on the Internet, created in 2011 by the precocious Jacob Smith of Sarasota, Florida’s Goldie Feldman Academy.)

And to continue the celebration, I’m offering a Pi wall clock (pictured below) to the commenter with the most creative idea for celebrating Pi Day. Bonus points if you are carrying out that idea, or have done so in the past.

Important disclosure: My mother was a mathematics teacher until her retirement, and she has had a heavy influence on my sense of humor. Therefore, I will likely have a soft spot for submissions from educators, or with an educational component.

The contest begins now and ends at 1:59 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday, March 15 (one full day after 3.14 1:59). In the spirit of fair play, UCS employees and their families should resist entering. My decision is final.

The clock is 7 inches in diameter and nearly 22 inches in circumference (and approximately 38.5 square inches in area). Regrettably, I can only ship the clock domestically. You can still enter if you live elsewhere, but you’ll have to choose a friend within the United States to receive it. Or you can have it sent to my mom. I know she’d like it.

UPDATE: We have a winner.

Posted in: Scientific Integrity

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  • Michael Halpern

    Thanks everyone for a lot of fun this week.

    Here’s the winner announcement, and much more:



  • so this pi fellar must be some kind of number. Is it like all others– can not be seen, smelt, heard, felt, or tasted ? Where did its shorthand symbol name originate ? Probably somewhere along the mediteranean sea. Circles are certainly curious gals. Since a circle could be described as the limit of a regular polygon with n-sides as n approaches infinity; perhaps the definition of “similar” applies. Thus, ratios in one would be the same in all. See that circle ? keep looking…..ah ha, there it is….threeness ! or maybe just a tad more.

  • Jill Noreman

    At JFK Middle School in Bethpage, NY, we sing pi songs, eat pi shaped cookies baked by our life skills class and have a little friendly pi competition. Students recite pi from memory. Our 7th grade winner, Michelle, recited 400 digits. A close second was 8th grader Emily at 323 digits. 3rd place went to 8th grader Matthew at 200 digits!!!!

  • Michael Halpern

    These are all great! I’ll be back tomorrow with a winner announcement and a couple of photos that were sent to me by some of the people who made comments. Sorry that the technology doesn’t allow you to upload your own.


  • Marshalyn Baker

    A few years ago, a teacher from Hawaii shared this pi activity with me. It is called a Cadaeuc Cadenza. Instead of doing the short story which the Cadaeic Cadenza is, I had my students adapt this idea to themselves. You create a description of yourself, using the digits of pi. You count the letters in the word to match with the correct digit of pi. I have put in just the text of mine, but I found pictures to put in a document with this to model the idea for my students. It was a hit, creative, and students engaged enthusiastically in the assignment.

    Mrs. B – Math, I enjoy Olympiads, of course! Favor Sox, Maine, Patriots, traveling, Richard, grandkids one by one. Friendly with Jackie, LS, Laurie plus Pam, Sue. Enthused and so engaged, delighted using zero in equation puzzlers. Golf a challenge however! A “spacy” character…

  • Kathleen Ingalls

    For the past 15 years I have been creating the (approximate) value of pi in my math classes. Each student receives a 4-inch square of colored construction paper. The squares are color coded so each digit is represented by a different color. Each student writes the corresponding digit on his/her square and decorates it in any school appropriate manner. The digits are glued (in order, of course) to a black background and each year’s addition is laminated. The string of digits now starts at my classroom and continues through three hallways in our school. We are nearing 1000 digits. (I have many former students that return on pi day each year to add more digits. In fact, one former student has added a number 14 out of the 15 years. She currently teaches in our school which makes it easy for her!)

    My Algebra 2 students each have to write an ode to pi. These are “judged” by our English department and prizes are awarded on pi day. I also have other classes create posters and pi-mobiles which we display around the school.

    A few years ago we had a pi scavenger hunt. We had 31 fun questions about pi printed on a question sheet which was given to any student in grades 5-12 that wanted to participate. The answers to all the questions were put on big construction paper pieces of pizza and hidden in various rooms around the school. Students had to find the answers to as many questions as possible and the winner was honored on pi day.

    And of course each student in my math classes receives a package of “pi” m&ms — the 3.14 ounce tear and share size.

  • To begin, what is ucsusa?

    I wanted to share what we are doing in my school Mount Desert High School, Mount Desert Island, Maine.
    At the start of this year, we started a Numeracy Study group. Our mission is to help people across our school community value the usefulness and the fun of math. As a group, we presented to the faculty at the end of February. At that meeting, we shared that we were planning events for Pi-Day. We were suprised at the enthusaism of our faculty. So, today, there were celebrations of Pi-Day across the school. I don’t think I could tell you everything that happened. But here are some of them:
    Events across the school:
    Lunch emphasized round food – cookies, pizza and apples
    There was a contest involving where students answered the question “what do cookies have to do with pi?” The winner was selected at random from correct answers and won a huge cookie (diameter about 12″).
    We had a dress up for pi day contest – winners were judged by guidance personnel and received gift certificates
    The assistant principal handed out whoopie pies to people who dressed for the pi theme
    Throughout the week, the monitor in our hall, showed digits of pi and other pi related videos
    The morning announcements included a pi-day song, written and recorded by a previous MDIHS student
    A art teacher created a screen print and put in on t-shirts that students or faculty brought in – he also put it on the classroom doors in the math dept.

    Events in classrooms (I am sure I do not know all of them)
    In Nutrition class, student spent the week preparing: on Monday, they decorated boxes for pies with pi themes; on Tuesday, they made pie crust; today they made pies and their boxes were judged by members of the math dept. (prizes awared again!)
    In 9th grade science classes, they found the diameters and circumferences of celestial bodies – from each they write reports and found the ratio of circumference to diameter.
    In tech classes, students estimated diameters based on measured circumferences (and some other activities)
    One of the tech teachers went around the school with a coiled up rope and students make educated guesses of its length
    In a business class, students worked with pie graphs
    In math classes, students created daisy designs using either Geometer’s Sketchpad or by hand with a compass, student created bar graphs representing the digits of pi, students learned the equations for circles and how to graph them by hand and with graphing calculators.
    Even in SAT prep class, students practiced math problems related to circles

    The day was fun, many people were involved. Many photos and videos were taken. These will be projected on our hallway TV and some will be posted on the MDIHS website. And, the Numeracy Study Group feels that we are making progress towards our goal. We have many plans for an expanded Pi-Day celebration next year!

  • Robin Loy

    All of our Geometry Students and teachers went outside and formed a Living Pi on the front of the school. Our libra media specialist took our picture from the roof of the building. It turned out great! I wish I knew how to attach it here. 🙁

    Robin Loy
    Math Teacher
    Adair County High School
    Columbia, KY

  • Loralee

    In my 7th and 8th grade classes, I had the students find the volume of doughnuts. By using the doughnuts instead of another round treat, they have to use their formula twice — once for the doughnut and once to subtract the volume of the hole. Once I checked the answers, they ate their doughnuts.
    I also had students use the online search of the digits of pi to find both their birthday and telephone number. The student with the answer closest to the decimal point won a prize.
    We tag-teamed and worked on a construction paper chain using a different color for each digit represented. This continued from one class to the other.
    And, of course, we ate pie and read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi!

  • Michael Halpern

    These are all fantastic activities. I’ve enjoyed reading these comments immensely. Let’s see what comes in over the next few hours!


  • Dawn Baker

    I am a Geometry teacher at Adair County High School in Columbia, KY. My Geometry classes celebrated Pi Day yesterday by constructing their own circles, measuring (with yarn) the circumference and then seeing how many diameters they could cut from the yarn circumference. Amazingly it worked out to be 3 whole diameters with just a little left over, no matter what size circle they created. We also worked out enough digits of pi so that every student I had (75) was responsible for 1 digit of pi and they decorated a paper plate with their digit in the middle of the plate. We then strung these on yarn and hung pi in the math hallway of our school. As a grand finale, we went to the front lawn of our school and formed a human pi symbol. Our librarian climbed up to the roof and took an aerial photograph that the local online magazine then published for us. We had a wonderful day!

  • Laura G.

    Hi Michael,

    As a UCS employee, I know that I can’t win the clock. But can’t resist sharing what our family did for Pi Day yesterday.

    I helped with Pi Day in my 7th grader’s class. The students graphed the maximum number of Pi digits that people have memorized over the last 40 years, which started with about 500 in the early 70s, to the most recent 100,000 digits (incredibly!). The kids were supposed to decide if the relationship between digits memorized and time eventually became linear.

    They estimated Pi using some tricky circular items (like cups that tapered), they made Pi jewelry with colored beads representing the different digits, they did story problems about snowmen using Pi and ratios, they investigated irrationality in different ways. 3/14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, so they chose favorite Einstein quotations.

    I was really impressed by how many digits the kids memorized–at least a dozen 7th graders entered the contest. The winners were within one digit of each other, with 139/140. One of the 8th graders got almost to 300. The kids and teachers all had pie at lunch that parents had brought in.

    After school, my kids and I went to the local bakery where we all won mini pies for reciting Pi digits. It is a new favorite holiday.

  • Ginger M

    To celebrate Pi day, another teacher and myself collaborated on pi day activities. The week before we challenged our students to raise $314.15 (the first 5 digits of pi) for neighboring county storm victims. If they achieved that amount then we would celebrate pi day by eating pie. We have 50 minute classes here so 25 minutes was spent with my class and then our students switched and 25 minutes I would spend with her students. I served actualy pie in my classroom (about 10 different varities) and read the book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pie by Cindy Neuschwander. The collaborating teacher had students measure different sizes of circles (paper plates, lids, etc). They measured the circumference and divided that number by the diameter. She took a class average to see which class came the closest to the actual value of pi. We enjoyed celebrating pi day!

  • Aristides Uy

    My ESL students presented their classroom projects in school today. Three different activities were presented to teachers, students and administrators. Stations were put up guests were treated to choices on what station to see. The theme of our projects is “discovering pi”. The first activity had the students measuring different items with circle shape. They then measured the diameters and wrote thise down on a chart. Lastly tC/D was calculated and then averaged, then their answers were compared. Discussions were then facilitated on their answers. The two other activities were also about discovering pi- the second involved the use of technology in the Geometer’s sketchpad, where various circumference and diameters were used as input, with all resulting to the same ratio of C/D. The third activity involved using strings to estimate the diameter of different circle shaped items then was replicated and wrapped around the same curcle- with a conclusion that about 3 and a fraction of the diameter wraps around the circumference of a circle, notwithstanding its size.

    • Marilyn Altabet

      Hi Michael,
      Loved your Pi treat!!! Just think how cool it would be to make a Pizza Pi!!!
      I am a consultant for the New York City Math Project and Work at Aristedes Uy’s school. There are some points that I’d like to pi-light about Pi day at International Community High School in the Bronx. Ari’s school is comprised of students who are relatively new immigrants. English is NOT there first language and many have very limited fluency. The fact that these students enthusiastically made presentations to their peers, teachers and administrators was totally awesome. They were professional and took their roles as group leaders very seriously. The students rehearsed, studied and were excited with anticipation and pride. I was delighted to see the mini-lessons taking place in small groups. Demonstrations, discussions, investigations and accountable math talk filled the room. Students were curious and asked questions relating to Pi like “who was the first person to discover pi?” and “what is the most digits of pi known?” The whole school was abuzz about Pi day. Decorations and posters decorated the entrance hallway, the door and room 432 and one teacher baked pi(es) in honor of the day. Of all the Pi day celebrations I’ve attended, this one was the most meaningful because of the enthusiasm of the students who are new to America.

  • Mrs. G

    The students in my math classes were given their choice of cookie(Oreos, chocolate chip, etc)to discover pi with. They were given a piece of string to measure the circumference and diameter with; then found the quotient. They shared their findings with othersnin their groups, then concluded with a class discussion about pi.

  • Maureen Brown

    I’m the math specialist at a middle school. Pi day has become a tradition for the National Junior Honor Society to research and plan. This year:
    We made announcements school wide for a week about the history of pi
    We give out a “Scavenger Hunt” (written annually by a National Junior Honor Society member. The NJHS collects them and scores them). The children who achieve an 85% or better have the opportunity to participate in a pi(e) eating contest.
    We give each child a paper plate and a digit from pi – they decorate the plate and the NJHS members hang them around the school in order – with three dots at the end indicating, of course, the irrationality of pi. The children have a great time looking for patterns and especially looking for their own number.
    We attempt to collect 314 cans of food for the local food bank. The class that collects the most food gets to throw whipped cream pi(es) at the NJHS members.
    Every class is given a “pi” problem of the day – one answer per homeroom – this is a ticket to a class surprise of whoopie pies…we order enough for every child, teacher, specialist, custodian, food worker, and administrator in the school. (725 whoopie pies) It’s a take on the old pumpkin joke…What do you get when you divide the circumference of a chocolate cake that is stuffed with marshmallow, by its diameter???? Whoopie Pie!!!
    We have a “Pi Bee” – this year we had a 6th grader recite 230 digits of pi in English, another recited 83 digits in Spanish, and another did 17 digits in Japanese (we took his word for it, to be honest!)
    I do some remedial classes so it depends on the level of children that are with me on Pi day…today we played vocabulary matching games with fifth grade, measured circles and computed pi in 7th, talked about ratio vs fractions in 6th, and in all of the grades we made the ever popular Pi bracelet. That’s our day!

  • Fara D

    My office has celebrated Pi(e) Day since 2006. I brought the tradition here from my previous office where it had been going for some time when I started there. In addition to baking and consuming many pies (construed liberally to include any round, filled pastry) we encourage Pi jokes and there is the annual reading of the “Pi poem.” Pies this year included a “Pi-napple Fool Pie” which was served in a Pi(e) plate with the first 88 digits glazed around the rim and a version of “Spaniko-pi-ta.” This year we also had a discussion of six or seven election methods with their pros and cons. The differences in outcomes from the various methods were ilustrated by the results of our votes for pi(es).

    In our office the Pi Poem is one I was challenged to compose for the event in which each line of the poem has the number of syllables as the corresponding digit of pi…

    (Ode to Pi Day)
    Pie to Thirty Digits

    3. I like Pie.
    1 Yes?
    4 Yes, better than
    1 Pi
    5 which brings memories:
    9 teachers, homework, anguished hours best
    2 forgot
    6 in favor of sweet pie
    5 bound in flaky crust;
    3 set to cool.

    5 I’ll eat pie today
    8 but if I eat pie all week long
    9 I’ll look like a pie, round and spilling
    7 through my crust or, in this case,
    9 my clothes. So, I save my pie to eat
    3 on Pie Day.
    2 Now, which
    3 indulgence
    8 Shall I allow? Pies stare at me,
    4 Tantalizing.

    6 In their many flavors
    2 pies taunt—
    6 filled with fruit, custard or
    4 meringue; cream or
    3 Pizza—pies
    3 in perfect
    8 pi proportions. We must cut them!
    3 I like pie.
    2 Oh yes!
    7 Heaven comes slice after slice.

    © Fara Daun 2010

  • Eleanore Vollweiler

    This activity was used in my Special Ed. Math A classes. (Ninth grade integrated course including algebra, geometry, probability, logic, probability, etc).

    I went on the internet and ran off pi to 20, 100 and 500 decimal places (for students with differing learning issues.) This was a review lesson.

    The directions were the same for each student. Students could choose to work alone, with a partner or several partners.

    Make a tally count for the digits 0 – 9.
    Make a table of values for the digits 0 -9.
    Make a stem and leaf plot for your data.
    Make a box and whisker plot for your date.
    Make a pictogram for your date.
    Make a line graph for your date.
    Make a circle graph for your data.
    What did you see?

  • Several bakeries and restaurants in the Chicagoland area have a sweet way to celebrate Pi Day. See the story in the Tribune at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/stew/chi-bakeries-restaurants-mark-pi-day-with-discounts-20120314,0,5704430.story?track=ct-bizwrap-31412

  • I teach 8th grade math. I’ve done several things, but my favorites are:
    1. The kids string pi necklaces or bracelets where each bead color represents a certain digit. (I must give credit to NCTM for this one.) We usually listen to pi songs from YouTube while stringing our jewelry.
    2. We watch a scene from the film “Castaway” in which Tom Hanks’ character explains a search radius and applies the area of a circle formula correctly to discover just how unlikely his rescue is.
    3. The students decorate the digits of pi (one per sheet of computer paper) and we wrap them around the classroom, then have a contest later on to see who can memorize the most digits. They can use their jewelry to help them memorize the digits.
    4. We eat round foods. Pi(e) and the like, of course.

    Happy Pi Day! The Rice Krispie Treats look yummy!

  • Carol B

    My 7th grade students made a paper chain representing the decimal places of pi. Each digit was made out of a different color. The students painted the paper previously, and the art teacher cut out the strips. Today (pi day), we had 4 classrooms putting together chains of 50 digits at a time, and ended up with a pi chain of 819 decimal places of pi! It’s strung up in our 7th grade hallway!

  • Guy M

    I come in on 3/14 dressed in a Team Pi jersey, with my Pi tie. This year I served pie once students found the area, circumference, radius, and diameter of a circle with a diameter equal to those of the pies. They loved it!

  • Nice, love the rice krispie treats.

    I forced my colleagues to watch this video this morning.

    It’s pi day, pi day, gotta celebrate on pi day…


  • Chris mathers

    I wrote a Pi-ku:

    Such a big number
    Running circles around me
    So irrational


  • Pat B

    I clearly did not do this, but one of the most amazing Pi representations I have ever seen is this crop circle:


    Whoever did that, human or alien, deserves the clock!