5-Minute Film Festival: Celebrate Pi Day!
Find videos, lesson plans, and activities for every grade level here.
The buzz around Pi Day grows every year—the internet loves to celebrate this irresistible combination of nerdiness and deliciousness. It’s especially fruitful (pun intended) for the many excellent math-focused creators on YouTube, who faithfully put out a batch of pi- and pie-related videos each year, on or near March 14. We’ve selected a few of the tastiest ones to get you and your students excited for Pi Day this year.
The Infinite Life of Pi—Reynaldo Lopes (03:45)
In this short animation, we learn the backstory and the many applications of pi, from the study of music to financial models—you can even calculate the density of the universe. Get the full lesson on TED-Ed’s website. (Best for: anyone who wants a basic primer on pi.)
Calculating Pi With Real Pies (03:14)
Math channel Numberphile is the source of many pi-themed videos, but my favorite is this one: Matt Parker of StandupMaths uses real pies to calculate pi. For extra geeky charm, this video is 3:14 minutes long, and the teacher-produced music is based on pi. (Best for: hungry math lovers of any age.)
When Pi Is Not 3.14—Infinite Series (11:31)
Ready for something a little more advanced? Challenge your students with this video from PBS Digital Studios, and watch mathematician Kelsey Houston-Edwards bend our ideas about pi by changing the metrics we use. (Best for: high school students.)
Pizza Pi (02:07)
Here’s the video to play when your students ask the dreaded question “But when will we use this in real life?” Find standards-based middle school and high school lesson plans to go with this video from Mathalicious—although membership is required, they do offer a free 30-day trial. (Best for: middle and high school students.)
Pi Is (Still) Wrong (05:16)
Rabble-rousing “mathemusician” ViHart is perhaps the only YouTube personality who faithfully makes an anti-pi video to release on Pi Day every year. This is her first one, from 2011; she rails against the popularity of pi and makes a case for tau. (Best for: disenchanted mathematical purists.)
There’s a wealth of activities and resources to be found online to support your Pi Day celebrations at every grade level. Start with Edutopia’s own “7 Classroom Resources for Pi Day,” and then click around on these three websites:
- Pi Day offers videos, news, and merch for pi lovers, along with some lesson ideas for teachers submitted by users.
- The Teach Pi website is your go-to spot for activities and ideas for the classroom.
- San Francisco’s beloved science and art museum Exploratorium is the birthplace of Pi Day, and they still offer free admission every March 14, with a procession, activities, and pie eating. They also offer online activities and links.