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WCE Faculty and Students Celebrate Pi Day at Bradley Creek Elementary

Friday, April 08, 2016

WCE faculty Tracy Hargrove, Heidi Higgins and Maggie Guggenheimer first partnered with Bradley Creek Elementary School teachers to plan a Pi Day celebration for fourth graders in the spring of 2015. The event, which featured two hours of hands-on math activities, was a huge success. A second annual event was held at the school on March 14, 2016.

In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing March 14 as National Pi Day. The date celebrates the mathematical constant pi (symbolized by the Greek symbol “p”) because the digits of this date correspond with the first three digits of pi (3.14).

In planning the inaugural celebration at Bradley Creek, Hargrove, Higgins and Guggenheimer worked with fourth-grade teacher Jamie Scordino to create a series of math lesson plans to help students learn to use pi to calculate the circumference, area and volume of a variety of round objects. Lesson plans were transformed into fun activities for students using Domino’s pizza boxes, construction paper, beads and other craft materials.

Students enjoyed the activities and learned a great deal, so WCE faculty and Bradley Creek’s principal and teachers decided to make the Pi Day celebration an annual school event, Hargrove said.

On Pi Day 2016, Hargrove, Guggenheimer, Higgins and 45 students enrolled in EDN 325 classes manned eight activity stations at the school, helping students create a giant chain with the digits of pi, calculate the circumference of bubbles and complete other projects.

EDN 325 is a required course in geometry, measurement and data for students enrolled in the Elementary Education program at the college.

Each participating fourth grader was given a teal UNCW Pi Day T-shirt, made possible through support from local sponsors including Dermatology Associates, P.A., Marshall & Winslett Dental, and Wilmington Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, as well as Bradley Creek principal Lauren Kefalonitis and Watson College Dean Van Dempsey.

“Elementary-age students have a natural curiosity for exploring mathematical concepts,” Hargrove said. “Pi Day is a unique opportunity to deepen students’ understanding of the concept of Pi in a very concrete and interactive way and to raise awareness of the importance of mathematics in our world. Activities like those used for Pi Day can foster a long-term interest in learning mathematics. Creating such an appreciation of mathematics in our younger students is indeed cause for celebration!”