This year my math department tried to really amp up the “Pi Day” activities into a full week-long celebration of math. We added on to many of the things we did last year, and invited in our first ever “Pi Week Speaker,” Annie Fetter! Here is a brief summary:
MONDAY – Hanging the Pi Chain
Similar to last year, we had each student decorate one link of a chain, representing a digit of the decimal expansion of pi. Students did this during math classes the Thursday and Friday before Pi Week, and then on the Monday of Pi Week we connected our sections of the chain and hung it around the outside of the classrooms!
While our campus is under some construction, we have this little area outside some of the math classrooms with trees. We used part of the Pi Chain to turn it into our mathy zen garden.
TUESDAY – Women in Math/Coding Project
Our wonderful 6th grade teacher, Jill Kearney, had her students create a coding project that involved the story of a historical female mathematician. The students presented these to a panel of adults. The winners won #mathgals shirts!
Side note on how awesome Jill is: On Pi Day, she made Pi Cookies for the teachers!
WEDNESDAY – Pi Week Speaker
For the first time, the math department invited a math speaker to talk an a whole-school assembly. In her 30min talk, Annie Fetter spoke to students about her background story, and her journey in going from a math student who got the answers to someone who asked why. She also talked about the NY Times What’s Going On in This Graph? activity. The students were riveted!
After her visit, I had students reflect on what she said. I was blown away by their reflections. For instance, one student said:
“While figuring out the answer is sufficient, to be a true mathematician is to wonder why that answer is correct. This brings me to my second largest take away, which is that to be a critical thinker means to focus on the journey, not the destination. In other words, just focusing on the answer is not enough to get you to truly understand the topic and its significance. Instead, focusing on the “why” and the “how” and you got there is the key to success–in multiple aspect of life, not just in math class.”
Huge thanks to Annie for coming to visit and to Jemma Kennedy for helping make it all happen!
THURSDAY – Pi Day!
Not a lot happened for us on actual Pi Day, outside the math classes. There were some other school events happening that day. However, this was the day winners of the Scavenger Hunt and Problems of the Day (see below) were awarded their math shirts!
FRIDAY – Math Shirt Day!
Our school has uniforms, so it was a treat for students to be able to dress down if they wore a math t-shirt!
During the whole week we had several math challenges happening, where students could win prizes, including cool math t-shirts! Those challenges included:
- A Week-Long Scavenger Hunt: students formed groups of 3-5 students and spent their free time each day solving a clue (or two) that would lead them to the next clue. All the clues involved math puzzles!
- A Daily Challenge Problem of the Day: the entire student body was emailed a math problem each morning. Anyone who could turn in the answer by the next day won a prize! These were challenging problems that were accessible to all ages, as we had students in grades 6-12 doing them.