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Happy 3/14/15 – and let’s hope you read it exactly at 9:26 for even more digits of Pi! Here are three activities for celebrating with your children and friends.
It’s a triangle! It’s a square! It’s a… circle?!
You will need a lot of straight thin objects about the same length: twigs you find outside, pencils on a blanket so they don’t roll, craft sticks, or simply strips of cut paper. Make a triangle out of your sticks. Add one more stick – you get a square. Add more sticks – you get a pentagon. Keep adding sticks. Pretty soon, you (better – your kids!) will marvel out loud that your shape is now a circle. Is it really a circle? Engineers say “Close enough!” and mathematicians say “No way!”
Three and a little bit
This is perfect for young children who are starting to fall in love with numbers: “Mom, what is a million?” Or those wishing to feel with their own hands where Pi comes from. You will need yarn, tape, or anything else you can easily unfurl and cut. Find a hula-hoop or a pot lid, or draw a large circle. Measure it across with your yarn and cut – that’s your unit (the diameter). Invite your child to estimate how many such units will fit around the circle.
Keep measuring out and adding units around your circle. Three should almost cover it, but not quite! Make an extra unit, and ask your child what part of it would fit into the space that is left around your circle. Will a half fit (fold your unit in half to show)? How about a third? Find a fraction small enough that it fits the gap. But if there is a bit more of the gap left, you can estimate that with a fraction of your fraction, and so on.
This is a teen or grown-up party trick. The steps are so simple a five-year-old would get them, but to enjoy the punchline, you do need to know what Pi is.
For more young calculus, check out the Moebius Noodles collection!
MoSAIC: Mathematics of Science, Arts, Industry and Culture is a festival celebrating the connections between mathematics and the arts. The festival will take place March 27-28, 2015 and it is free and open to the public. It is a great opportunity for children and adults to experience and reflect about the interplay between math and art, and for parents and teachers to find inspiration for student activities.
We are growing. Join our adventures!
Part-time paid positions
Spend quality time with engaged people working on meaningful mathematics! You can volunteer as little as an hour per month. Our current volunteers include teens, parents, university researchers, software developers, retired professionals, social media activists, and creative writers. This is perfect for people who want more active but casual engagement, or want to ramp up their skillset and resume.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about work or volunteering.
See you online! Dr. Maria Droujkova and the Natural Math crew