Tomorrow is Pi Approximation Day! Whats so cool about it?

Jul 21, 2022 | Red Deer

Fun Fact: this picture shows countries that use the MM/DD/YYYY date format. But according to Wikipedia, it also includes the Philippines, Palau, Canada and Micronesia. Further info says in Canada it depends. If your background is European, you’d use DD/MM/YYY. Anyway, whatever version you use, the reality is that the majority of the world uses the DD/MM/YYYY date format.

The wonderful thing about this is, this is why we have two Pi days in a year! The first one is on March 14 (3.14) and tomorrow we’ll have Pi Approximation Day! Another fun fact: Albert Einstein’s birthday is on March 14 – and one of our students' and instructor's  birthday is on July 22 😊 woo hoo .. happy birthday to both of you tomorrow!


Kids at our centre are celebrating Pi Approximation Day early by eating Pi Pizza! Why? So that tomorrow we can eat more Pies!!


What is Pi again?

In simple language, Pi is the length of a circle divided by the distance across the circle. Or in a more mathematical language, it’s the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of the circle. So, for all circles of any size, Pi will always be the same: approximately 3.14 in decimal form, or 22/7 in fraction form. That’s why Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (3.14) and Pi Approximation Day on 22nd of July (22/7).


Why do we make such a big deal out of Pi?

Because Pi is a big deal. This irrational number that begins with 3.14 and goes on forever helps us understand so much about our universe. We first learn about Pi when measuring circles, but Pi also used to talk to satellites, to measure how fast and powerful a computer is, and even to study the structure of an eye. Pi is used every day to make calculations in physics, engineering, modern construction, space exploration and so much more. Pi is all around us! And it helps the world go ”round”.  So let’s give Pi the celebration it deserves!


The History of Pi

According to this article in Scientific American, the importance of Pi has been recognized for at least 4,000 years. By 2000 BC the Babylonians and the Egyptians were aware of the existence and the significance of the constant Pi, recognizing that every circle has the same ratio of circumference to diameter. They had rough numerical approximation of the value of Pi. Later, mathematicians in ancient Greece, particularly Archimedes, improved on those approximations. By the start of the 20th century, about 500 digits of Pi were known. Thanks to computers, we now know more than the first six billion digits of Pi!

The Greek symbol of Pi was suggested by William Jones, a Welsh mathematician, but not popularized until it was used by Leonhard Euler in 1737.


Whose idea was Pi Day?

It came from Larry Shaw, a staff member of the San Francisco science museum in 1988. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day, then in 2019 UNESCO designated Pi Day as the International Day of Mathematics.

The history behind the Pi Approximation Day – July 22 – is unknown. But it’s becoming more popular as the rest of the world uses the dd/mm format.


Why we love Pi

Because it's an excuse to have some pies!! And what's more:

  1. Pi is infinitely cool. There is no pattern! The exact value is completely unknown. We could continue to count on and on until infinity and still have no idea what digit might emerge next.
  2. Pi sounds like Pie. So we can celebrate Pi Day by having Pies! (I told ya!)
  3. Pi links math to the real world. As explained earlier, Pi links math back to real world uses. Pi is linked to circles, so it is also linked to cycles – things like calculating waves, ebb and flow, the ocean tides, electromagnetic waves, etc. Many natural world phenomena can also be calculated with Pi – like the shape of rivers, the disc of he sun, the spiral DNA, and even the pupil of an eye.
  4. Pssst .. the Great Pyramid at Giza hides many secrets, including Pi: the ratio of the perimeter of the base to the height equals two Pi(e)s!

So now after learning that math is not just about (abstract) numbers, let’s celebrate Pi Approximation Day tomorrow!!


Mathnasium of Red Deer is your neighbourhood’s math-only learning centre, and we are here to unlock your child’s potential and set them on a path to lifetime success. Our centre director, Riwan, and the whole team, would be happy to meet you! We are conveniently located in the shopping destination area in Red Deer: 5250 22nd St, Unit 30 B – at the Gaetz Avenue Crossing shopping centre, in the same area as Chapters Indigo/Starbucks, Michael Arts, Petland and Ashley, and the phone number is 403-872 MATH (6284). 

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