This week we celebrated a fun mathematical holiday invented by the “Prince of Pi,” physicist and science communicator Larry Shaw. While working at San Francisco’s science museum, the Exploratorium, Shaw made the connection between the mathematical constant (P) and the date in March. The first Pi day was a small celebration, but it grew into an annual public event for the museum. Despite being created in 1988, it wasn’t until 2009 that it was recognized as a national holiday. Pi day is celebrated every year on March 14, because the digits in the date are the first three digits of π (3.14).
The holiday was created to make math more accessible and fun for those who may have had problems in school. People tend to celebrate the holiday by having a pie baking contest where the participants bake pi shaped pies, pie eating contest, pi recitation contest, or eating foods that start with a pi (pineapples, pizza etc.).
Just as Larry Shaw loved to help people realize they were capable of engaging in areas they thought were closed to them, ITEST projects make STEM more accessible to students who think careers in STEM are out of their reach.