Yesterday was a deliciously geeky day – Pi Day! Pi Day gets its name from the mathematical symbol for the constant defining the relationship between a diameter of a circle and its circumference, identified by the Greek letter Pi (π). This relationship has been studied since the time of the Greeks by Archimedes, Isaac Newton, and many other great philosophers, mathematicians and engineers.
Pi Day celebrates interesting qualities and the fundamental impact of Pi on engineering, trigonometry and many other aspects of STEM studies on the March 14th each year, because 3/14 follows the approximate value of Pi (3.14) that children are taught in school.
Pi as a constant ratio is interesting because the sequence of numerals has not yet been found to repeat, forming an infinite series of values. This is an interesting puzzle to help interest young learners in mathematics and fields such as computer science, which struggle to develop increasingly more powerful algorithms and computers to try to calculate the value of Pi to increasingly more decimal places.
Pi Day offered the chance to show students many different concepts for study and interest in STEM subjects, and was an excellent opportunity to bring young learners together with the Raspberry Pi credit-card sized computers I use for many of our STEMulate Learning workshops. The Raspberry Pi was developed in the UK as an educational tool capable of teaching students computer science, networking, programming, and even high-performance computing (supercomputing) using a single board that costs approximately $35 USD.
By combining the Raspberry Pi with a television and standard USB keyboard/mouse human interface devices, this tiny system can run a reduced configuration of the popular Linux platform to suit educational curriculum requirements for many different classes, up to teaching students about distributed computing and supercomputing by linking dozens of the inexpensive cards together. Before this, even the least expensive cluster or grid computer would require tens of thousands of dollars worth of computing, even when using inexpensive components in our past workshops (photos).
The Raspberry Pi takes its name from the python programming language it was originally designed to use in educational settings, Python becoming Pi in a nod to the wonderful mathematical concept that can sponsor so many possible lines of study. Around us, there are many inexpensive ways to enhance our educational settings and the potential in our students to face the wonders of the future and discoveries they have yet to make!