• Pi Day 2018 – celebrate with NASA’s ‘Pi in the Sky’ math challenge

    Pi in the Sky challenge. Image supplied by NASA
    Date:14 March 2018 Author: Elise Kirsten Tags:, ,

    Today, 14 March is Pi Day. It’s a day where “the beloved number known as pi” is celebrated, according to a statement issued by NASA.

    Pi if you recall is made up of an infinite number of digits, however it is often abbreviated as 3.14 (which is why Pi Day is celebrated on 14 March or as written in the USA 3/14)

    To celebrate the day, the Education Office of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California has put together a series of fun maths problems and invites the public to solve them.  This test has been dubbed the ‘Pi in the Sky’ challenge and is aimed at grades 5 to 12, however we suspect that some of you may enjoy them too.

    The challenge will feature math problems that illustrate how pi can be used to learn about all kinds of curious features of the universe, including earthquakes on Mars, helium rain on Jupiter, and planets orbiting other stars.

    Pi can be used to derive characteristics of a circle or a sphere, such as circumference or surface area. Scientists and engineers at NASA’s JPL frequently use pi to learn about moons, planets, stars and other spherical bodies, and to track the orbits of satellites and spacecraft.

    “All of the problems in the ‘Pi in the Sky’ challenge are real problems that JPL scientists and engineers solve using pi,” said Ota Lutz, a senior education specialist at JPL who helped create the Pi Day Challenge. Lutz said adults love trying out the problems as well, and encourages everyone to attempt the challenge “even if they aren’t familiar with space exploration.”

    You can take part in the challenge here.

    Solutions to the illustrated questions will be posted on March 15, according to NASA. Pi Daychallenge problems from previous years can be found on the website, too. JPL also offers additional resources for teachers and educators who want to use the problems in the classroom too.


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