Confessions of a Math Phobe or How to Find Yourself in Pi-e

Confession- I grew up hating, not disliking, not slightly annoyed by but yes downright loathing MATH. Math and I have a long history of failed relationships. The dreaded times tables were the first battle in what became a lifelong war with my nemesis math. I stumbled with the tables and failed while my friends buzzed, easily through memorizing theirs. My parents tried everything, games, tutoring, bribery “memorize tour times tables and we will buy you a Cabbage Patch Kid”. Now at that time there was no greater prize than a Cabbage Patch. I wanted the doll, I mean I really wanted the doll but the results of this endeavor left both my mother who was a teacher and me leaving for our respective schools in tears each morning.
I did eventually memorize my times tables and earn the coveted Cabbage Patch doll but the math drama only increased as I got older. There was a brief romance with geometry in high school where a light began to shine through. I tuned out once again when the teacher who fancied himself a comedian started a daily ritual of entertaining the class with his repertoire of sexist jokes like “why do women have small hands, to clean behind the toilets of course.” He didn’t quit his day job.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with me all I know is at the bare mention of numbers my brain immediately charts a course for Aruba.
Flash forward a bit and it turns out that I’m rather good at multiplying after all (by two’s at least). I hit the rare twins’ jackpot of having not one but two sets of twins.
Thankfully none of children have inherited my math phobia. I am resolved to keep it this way. And this is why we celebrate pi. Math and I needed to come to terms, for the kids. So a few years back a good friend of mine and I came up with pi-e day; a celebration of all things pi and pie, A yummy math holiday!
We’ve been celebrating pi-e day (3/14) for four years now and we have come up with a pretty tasty recipe for marrying math and pie. Here are a few of our favorite pi-e day ideas guaranteed to help even the hardiest of math phobes like me embrace their inner math geek.
1. Pie eating/pi solving contest. Prewrite math equations on the back of with permanent markers on the back of small pie tins. Fill a small pie pan with whipped cream. Now use the same rules as you would for a pie eating contest only to complete a pi/pie contest the winner must first solve the math equation on the back of the tin after finishing all of the whipped cream.
2. Pi-e in the face painting. We do pi-e cheek art. Pi puns abound in this easy activity. Think of all the different things that you can create using the symbol for pi; Pi-thons, pi-rate, apples, peaches, pumpkin pi, pi in the sky and so on and then paint them whimsically on to the faces of math enthusiasts.
3. Piku- Think Haiku only use the first three digits of pi for 3, 1, and 4 for your syllable count. We write ours on paper pie plates because they are round (pi) and we love pie!
4. Make a PI-e’s Eye. Think a bull’s eye framed by a pie crust. We also make marshmallow shooters out of PVC pipes and everyone shoots marshmallows at the pi-e eye.
5. Have a pie bake-off. Pies are circular in nature. Plus they are just yummy! Pie makes pi tasty. Take it to the next digit of pi by creating fun pie recipe books with the delicious recipes.
6. Magpi-e- design a magazine cover about pi-e! Make sure to date it 3/14 and price it $3.14
7. Hula hoops! Hey they are round and folks are going to need to work off that pie!
8. Make a pi chain. Color code numbers with small strips of colored paper for numbers 0-9 and have students create a chain using the digits of pi.
9. Pi carols- there’s nothing like a jolly round of pi caroling to put you in the mood for a math class holiday – hey!
10. Pi-e tunes- Sugar pie, Honey bunch you know… that there is an amazing array of songs about pi, pie and math. Spice things up with your own pi-e day DJ rockin out the pi-e tunes!
11. Pi-e Walk- Think cake walk using color coded numbers of pi for the circle and of course winner takes a pie instead of a cake.
12. Don’t forget Einstein- March 14th is Einstein’s birthday. We always include a dress like Einstein photo booth on pi-e day, to celebrate one of our favorite math geeks.
13. Get into the history of pi- Believe it or not pi has an interesting history. Dig a little and you will find a long standing debate about pi. Make it more fun by debating pi. Where do you stand on pi?
14. Math games- Yes I have come to learn that math can indeed be fun! You can play; Math Jeopardy, Mono-pi-ly, or any number of other fun math games. The possibilities are as endless as pi!
15. Find yourself in pi! Take pi as far as you can in numbers around the room then send everyone out to find their special numbers like your birth date or anniversary. Or have them solve this simple math equation to find their Birth Number, add all the numbers in the Birth Date together, like in the example, until there is only one digit.
March 20, 1950
3 + 20 + 1950 = 1973
1 + 9 + 7 + 3 = 20
2 + 0 = 2
Now go find yourself and your number in pi.
You will notice that I have a total of 15 ideas presented here. I didn’t pick 15 randomly. I choose it because next year 2015 will be a huge year in pi. It will be 3/14/15 taking pi to the 5th digit. And yes we have already started planning. Pi is infinite and it turns out your adventures in pi can be too.
Happy Pi Day math peeps! Go get your geek on!

Join Us For The Fourth Annual Jersey City PI-E Day!

Please join us in a celebration of all things PIE and PI! Fun Pi-e Day activities include; blue ribbon pie baking contest, pie café, pie/pi eating contest, pie walks, pi games, pi crafts, pi-e in the face painting, balloons and more.      Follow us on Facebook