Pi Day Challenge Makes Math Fun

A senior student helps younger students with a math problem

What could be better than learning about Pi in your PJ’s?

Yesterday, Grade 4-7 students got together to celebrate Pi Day (and Spirit Week Pajama Day) with a slew of fun math activities. This yearly event provides an opportunity for the Elementary and Middle school students to collaborate on solving fun and challenging math problems while also practicing social-emotional skills like empathy, patience, and resilience. It also allows the Middle school students to help teach the younger students math skills they may not have yet learned, while reinforcing their own knowledge of math.

This year, 8 activity stations were set up in classrooms in the Elementary and Secondary buildings, with students assigned to groups that rotated through the different stations. Each activity was based around solving math problems, or using math to solve real-world problems. Activities included understanding the relationship between pi and circles, a Hunger Games challenge for the fastest problem solving skills, cryptography and codes, and using the Golden Ratio to define “beauty” mathematically.

“One of the goals of Pi Day is to get students excited about math,” explained Jorge Ochoa, Middle school math teacher and one of the organizers of the Pi Day activities.

With that in mind, two new activities were designed this year to increase participation from IPA families and faculty and staff. The first activity invited faculty and staff to solve a math problem to earn a piece of pie. The difficulty of the problems ranged from basic algebra up to calculus, with no worry of failure. The focus was on effort and process, and everyone who participated enjoyed a slice!

The second activity was the Pi Day Social Media Contest for all IPA families, faculty, and staff to participate in. Grade levels were assigned different math problems involving pi to solve. The challenge was to create a 15 second video, involving at least one family member, explaining the process and accuracy of the solution. The challenging problems included calculating the cost per square inch of a favorite round food, determining how many spherical objects it would take to fill a room in your house, and writing a song about pi and making a music video for it.

One of the many great things about this year’s Pi Day was the fact that all of the math activities, and the problems for the Pi Day Social Media contest, were created by students in the IPA math honor society, Mu Alpha Theta. The honor students, and additional students in the high-level math class, also ran the activities for the younger students. It was a true collaboration between the Elementary, Middle, and Upper school students, resulting in a day of fun and meaningful math and problem solving. And everyone got a slice of pizza, everyone’s favorite pie, to end it all off!

Student doing math problem on white board

Student doing math problem on white board

Group of three boys collaborating on solving a math problem

Group of students measuring the diameter of circles

Two students work on deciphering a code

Two students working on solving a math problem

A senior student helps younger students with a math problem

Elementary students works on calculating the golden ratio


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