WHAT ABOUT PI?

Add a new dimension to study of geometry

Geometry is a subject which most children start to learn with a lot of enthusiasm. Especially because, kids get to use compass (used to draw circles), protractor (to measure angles) and scales.

However, children begin to hit a wall when they start to learn how to measure the areas of different figures.

Circles are one of the most fascinating of shapes. It is symmetrical and therefore is a favourite shape of not just adults but also children.

It thus makes sense to teach children some amazing facts about this shape and introduce children to the world of Pi.

It is difficult to imagine any kind of measurement for a shape like circle without the use of Pi. But, what is Pi and how to introduce this to kids?

A Brief History of Pi

Humans seem to have known about Pi, long before we can imagine. It has been referred in many scriptures including the Mesopotomian and Egyptian Rhind Papyrus. Pi has its Indian connection too. The great Mathematician Baudhayana in 800 BC is also accredited with finding the value of Pi .

So, how does Pi get a Greek name? It was not introduced by the Greeks but for a long time, Pi was referred to by different names.

It is believed that, the trend could have begun by the 18th century Mathematician called William Jones, and many other modern mathematicians just followed the trend. Pi is also the first Greek letter in the word ‘perimeter’ and hence become a simple way to refer to the number.

Now, how do we get children to understand the magic of Pi?

Here’s an activity:

Ask children to gather many things in the house that are round in shape – frisbee, jar lids, plates. Find a cloth tape (any measuring tape that can be bent) or make do with a rope that you can measure using a scale. Help the kids get the tape around the jar lid or plate and note the reading. (If you are using a rope, then, measure the rope using a scale.)

This is the circumference of the circular object.

Get the tape to the middle of the lid/plate. Measure the distance between top rim and the bottom rim of the lid/plate. This is the diameter of the circular object.
Now, help children divide the circumference by the diameter (you can use a calculator if you wish). The ratio of the two is always a constant unless you have got the measurement wrong! This means, pi is the number of times, the diameter will fit in the circumference of the circle!

Now, try it more with other circular objects and amaze people with your skill!

Some cool facts about pi:

We can never truly know the value of pi because, it goes on. It is an irrational number. A lot of people try to compete to recite the value of pi. The man who holds the current world record recited up to 67,840 decimal places of pi.

3.14 is only an approximate value of pi. The popular notation 22/7 is again only an approximation. Try to actually divide 22/7, the numbers start to differ from the 3 decimal place.  A Japanese man has calculated the value of pi upto 10 trillion decimal places on a home made computer! It is believed that, calculating the value of pi is like a stress test for a computer.

Every year, 14th of March is celebrated as ‘Pi Day’ simply because, when the date is written as 3.14, it resembles 14th March! What more, the celebration is believed to start at exactly 1.59 to coincide with the further decimals of pi – 3.14159265358979323846….
The mirror image of pi value – 3.14 roughly reads PIE.

So, there, Pi is a great number and is worth learning up because of the remarkable properties it has. What more, it has been known to man for a very long time. So, let us dig in and have our share of Pi.

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