Hold a classroom or school-wide contest for the recitation of the most digits from memory. Offer a free pizza pi(e) to the winner.
» You should expect the winner to memorize about 30 or 40 digits, but every once in a while, a student like Gaurav Raja (Roanoke, VA) comes along. He’s up to a whopping 10,980, finally securing the North American record.
» Keep records from year to year, as a Pi Day Hall of Fame, and notify your class of the all-time school best.
Hold a Pi Trivia Game, challenging students to find answers either in handout packets or the Internet on the history and uses of pi.
» Students at Holy Angels School in Dayton, OH took part in the 3.14 Trivia Game, where students looked for answers about pi mathematicians, and uses of the number in nature, art, and architecture.
Hold a pie-baking contest, where students and teachers bake and submit pies to a panel of judges, maybe drawn from the community. Raise money for a charity or your math club by selling the remaining slices of each pie.
» Teachers at Schroeder M.S. in Grand Forks, ND raised $125 for their local Humane Society through a Pi Day pie bakeoff they called the “Power of Pie” contest. Judging of the 22 pies was done by the newspaper’s food editor, and a few community leaders. Aside from the overall winners, ribbons were also given to the Best Presentation and Ugliest Pie.
Dress up like birthday-boy Albert Einstein on Pi Day, and encourage students to do so, too. Or, use your imagination and dress as Pi… yes, it’s been done.
» As with everything else, you can make it a costume contest… The prize: a pie inscribed with E=mc squared?
Hold an instant-memory challenge for those who haven’t learned any of the number by heart. Ask for a student volunteer. As in the “Simon” game, have the student parrot back the number after you say it, adding one more digit each time, until they make a mistake.
» You: “3.1415926.” Student: “3.141595…6?” You: “Oops! Nice job, you made it six digits. Next!”
» Your class will be shocked as to how many digits they all know, after five or ten of them take the challenge.
In your Pi Day memorization contest, keep records from year to year, and notify your class of the all-time school best. Give a prize (a little pie?) to everyone who learns at least 40 digits, and something special (a big pizza?) to anyone who breaks the school record.
» 401 digits was the record as of Pi Day ’05 at Notre Dame H.S. in Elmira, NY.
» Allow students to strive to become permanent members of different “clubs.” For example:
Ratio Reciters (5-20 digits)
Transcendentals (51 and up).
If students participate in at least 75 percent of Pi Day activities, allow them to throw a cream pie at you.
» “I’m smelling like cream for three or four days,” says teacher Tom Bronson of Independent Day School in Tampa, FL.
Divide your class into teams, and track their group scores as they compete in a series of Pi Day events. Award team and individual medals (or pies, or other round treats).
» Student teams at the Montgomery Academy wore colors to match their pie-themed team names, such as “The Banana Creams,” “The Key Limes,” and “The Oreos.” They faced off in speed math tests, Pi Bingo, brain teasers, and computer games.
Hold a hula-hoop contest, as part of the festivities in an assembly or lunchtime Pi Day event. Hey, they’re circular!
» St. Scholastica Academy in New Orleans, LA held a Pi Day hula contest, perhaps to burn off the calories from the Moon Pies everyone was given during first period.
Stage a relay race, in which participants run from one station to the next, answering Pi trivia or math questions at each stop.
» Fredonia State College in Fredonia, NY calls this one-hour activity “Le Tour de Pi.”
Compile a recipe book of pies and desserts, from parents and colleagues, and hold an art contest for a pi-themed book cover. Encourage the recipe donors to bring in actual examples!
» Arlington M.S. in Poughkeepsie, NY turned this recipe book project into a charitable one: 90 homemade pies, quiches, and pizzas (with accompanying recipes) were donated to a local food shelf.
Challenge students to bring in at least 314 cans of food per grade level. If they do, let them hit you with a pie!
» That’s how Paris Gibson M.S. in Great Falls, MT was able to collect more than 1,700 cans on one recent Pi Day.