Middle school is the best time to celebrate pi because middle school students are learning about formulas for finding area and circumference, exploring ratio and proportion, and investigating irrational numbers. Pi is all of those! The
Apple Pi unit from Illuminations is full of investigations and interactives that students can use to understand pi as a ratio; to understand how pi relates to the area of a circle as well as its circumference; and to understand what area, circumference, radius, and diameter each tell us about circles (check out the “Problems” tab on the
Circle Tool interactive and get your students talking about grazing goats).
As your middle school students explore pi, the question of what pi is really equal to might come up. Is pi 3.14? 3 and 14/100? 3 1/7? 22/7? Read
Dr. Math’s FAQ about pi, to see the great ways to explore what it means for pi to be an irrational. To help students visualize what it means that the decimal representation of pi is non-terminating and non-repeating, you can also celebrate pi day with a
pi necklace. Discuss with students (or have students make) necklaces for 3.17 and 22/7. How do they look different from a pi necklace?
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