A Celebration of Pi

A Celebration of Pi

Over the course of the last two weeks, students across the Senior School have been discussing the mathematical constant ‘Pi’ and its value within Mathematics.

The activities took place either side of Pi Day, which is celebrated annually on 14th March, or in the American calendar, 03/14, reflecting the first three digits of Pi (3.14).

Pi, known as the Greek letter π, is used most commonly when working with the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

To learn more about Pi and its importance, pupils from various year groups took part in activities including:

  • Pi Day Dingbats – The popular ‘say what you see’ game, with lots of Pi related clues, played as a House competition.
  • The Great Pi Recital Challenge – Students were set the challenge of reciting as many of the digits in Pi as they could to Mrs Holby in order to win points for their House, with an additional prize for the best attempt from each year group. The overall winner was Natasha B (Year 7) with a superbly impressive 78 decimal places.
  • Buffon’s Needle – Our mathematicians in Year 8 to Upper Sixth examined one of the oldest problems in the field of geometrical probability; if you drop a needle on a lined sheet of paper, what is the probability that the needle will cross one of the lines on the page? Remarkably, the probability is directly related to Pi. Our students investigated further using matchsticks and lined paper. We dropped over 15000 matches to estimate the value of Pi and our final figure was 3.005. We sent our results to UK Maths Trust who are collecting results from schools all across the UK. James F (Upper Sixth) gave a short lecture to the other Sixth Form mathematicians on why Buffon’s experiment approximates Pi, drawing on trigonometry, probability and integration.
  • Paper Chains of Pi – In a race against the clock, Year 7 worked in their Houses to set about creating the longest paper chain they could, making sure that each link represented the digits of Pi in the correct order. Well done to Newman House who came first with an impressive 69 decimal places.
  • SumDog Pi Special – Students in Lower School have competed in a national maths challenge with a Pi theme.

Engaging our students in activities such as this makes topics more more visual, helping to embed learning objectives and making subjects easier to digest.

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A Celebration of Pi