How Different Colleges Celebrate Pi Day

japanese umbrella near lawn and boulder with kitsune mask
Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

There’s a great holiday coming up soon in the second week of March. No, sorry Brutus, we’re not talking about the Ides. Here’s a hint: your school(s) growing up may have held some kind of commemoration on March 14th. Do you know what I’m talking about? This day is also known as Pi Day, since the date is written 3/14! In this article, I’ll explore how different colleges celebrate Pi Day to elevate your celebration and learn more about these lesser-known schools in the process.

Background

The mathematical concept of pi, also written as π (the Greek letter), has been around for a long, long time. You’ve probably learned about the history of the number pi in school. If you haven’t, here are a few fast facts: 

  1. – Pi is useful for calculating the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle (or a pizza pie, if you’re feeling clever). 
  2. – Pi is thought to be first calculated and recorded in 1706, but the Babylonians had a close approximation as early as 2000 BCE.
  3. – The rough numerical equivalent is 3.14, but since the number is irrational, it technically has infinity decimal places! 
    • 3.14. – So, the 3.14 number notation you recognize is just the rounded version of pi that we use to calculate and solve other math problems.

About Pi Day

The celebration, Pi Day, is an enjoyable way for students to take part in mathematics in a hands-on way. The American Mathematical Society includes some great ideas. For example, my high school held a competition to see who could memorize the most digits. Once upon a time, I could recite 72 myself! Some eat their favorite dessert pie, some share a pizza pie, and others include pi in their practice homework problems.

Are you curious how other people and schools around the world celebrate? I’ve researched a few examples of how different colleges and universities celebrate mathematics on Pi Day. Hopefully, this will give you a fun way to get a taste of campus culture… no pun intended. Let’s take a look!

Campus Celebrations

  • Penn State incorporates food, hula hoops, and a photo contest. You can check out submissions under #PennStateYorkPiDay and look at how pi impacts our daily lives!
  • Pasadena City College has a whole conference for the holiday. Check out the student posters on their website for creative inspiration.
  • Indiana State University gives students the day off of classes – so you can study math, right? 
  • St. Bonaventure University has their Pi Day itinerary down to the hour, taking the date and time out to the eighth decimal place. Props for that one.
  • The University of Hawaii points out that Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s birthday (yes, really). Play horseshoes and take pictures with the birthday boy at the Kapiolani campus. At the Leeward campus, you can try your hand at writing your own “Pi-ku” (a haiku style poem that’s pi-themed).
  • Edinboro University actually invites high school students and the community to celebrate with the college! If you’re near enough to Pennsylvania, check it out.
  • Carnegie Mellon’s global campus in Qatar holds celebrations also created for high school or secondary students specifically!
  • Syracuse University published a fun article interview with Professor Leuschke to share his perspective on the day and commemorate the celebration.

To Come Full Circle…

I hope these campuses inspire students to stay curious, and celebrate the things you care about. Most of all, you can see that there are fellow nerds out there! College is a great place to lean in to your interests. Find your community of fellow students to learn alongside and engage your brain. 

Looking for more tips on how to learn about campus culture, or need help building your college list? I’d recommend booking a free consult with one of our enrollment specialists below! Do yourself a favor… in honor of Pi Day. 

Questions? Let us know!