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American Academy gets a piece of the pi

Holding their “pieces of pi” are (left to right) Grant Hengsteler, Nicholas Pacheco, Amanda Scholz, Sarah Cree, Lauren Lee,  Meredith Ham, and middle school math teacher, Benji Billman.

Article by Katie Williams with photos courtesy of AA

American Academy (AA) students love Pi. We’re talking about the number kind of Pi here, not the pastry, although the sweet stuff happens to come up a lot when you are celebrating Pi. And what better day to celebrate Pi than on March 14, when the date so happily corresponds with Albert Einstein’s birthday and the numerical value of Pi itself (3.14)?

Students kicked off the festivities in advance by creating Pi fact posters and memorizing as many digits of Pi as they could. Maya Patel, a seventh grader, memorized 133 digits of Pi! The winning fact poster was created by eighth graders Gayarthri Gude and Nitya Nunna.

In each class, students studied the history of Pi, created Pi poems and stories, and enjoyed Albert Einstein’s birthday while learning about his discoveries. During math class, students rotated between “Pi Discovery Stations”, looking for all the places in the world where Pi appears. They assigned colored papers to each number, 1-9, and then cut and linked together a massive color Pi paper chain that took them into the hallway and required many hands to support. And they then mapped their birthday digits within Pi and marked that place on an enormous Pi number line stretching the length of the hallway-many students were further than 600,000 places into Pi’s digits.

Students also explored Buffon’s Needle Theorem by throwing licorice randomly onto a gridded paper. Pi magically appears as an estimation of probability whether the licorice would land on the paper crossing or not crossing the grid lines. By the end of the day, students had thrown the licorice sticks over 900 times and estimated Pi as close as 3.2. And yes, some licorice sticks did end up in the light fixtures!

Wrapping up a full day of Pi, students explored how the diameter of round items such as wheels, trash cans, and hula hoops are related to Pi as students rolled each around to measure their circumferences. Staff and students alike had a great day learning about the mysteries and complexities of Pi.

For more information about AA, please visit them online at, or contact the school at 720-292-5200.

The winning Pi Poster was submitted by eighth graders, Gayarthri Gude and Nitya Nunna.



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