3.14/15 = Pi Day, 2015

March 14th is almost here. Many people think this year is even more special since the date could written to show the first 5 digits of π.

Celebrate π in your school and in your math class with activities that demonstrate how π was derived; visually show why π makes sense; show a surprising place where π is used; increase students ability to measure and long divide; applauds the talent of people who can memorize large strings of numbers; and lets students just have fun.

Iditarod 2015


The Iditarod dog sled race begins officially in Anchorage, Alaska on March 7th and then restarts in Fairbanks two days later.  There is so much mathematics in this race that our activity feels totally insufficient.  Mushers and their dog teams travel by day and night and, in their quest to win, have very little time to rest. But, perhaps the activity will raise interest and encourage students to find out more and bring their research to class.

We've dealt with reading charts, calculating speed, calculating present value, and considering daylight hours of travel.

But, who will win? With how many dogs left? After how many days? Through what conditions? Through what mishaps and challenges? The list goes on ...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them


Clicking on this image will show it larger in a new window.

In 2001, J.K.Rowling (the author of the Harry Potter series) wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Next year this will be the first in a series of three movies that are meant to take place 70 years before the Harry Potter series began.

"Beasts" will be produced by David Heyman, the same producer that created the Potter movies. In this activity students use the average cost of a Harry Potter movie to estimate the cost of creating a "Beasts" movie. The task is open, in that it asks students to analyze central tendency, using either median, mode or mean.  Which is the best predictor of the cost of making this new movie?  As an extension students make box plots and analyze the interquartile values to understand outliers.  This is an interesting set of data, with an outlier and a mode that may be the most representative measure of the set. Enjoy the Beasts!

Huge Key Lime pie

On a cold and snowy day in Boston, two chefs created a huge Key Lime pie to remind the frozen people of the Northeast how tasty and warm the Keys of Florida are.

After you show this movie to your students, ask them what they wonder about this huge pie and what they would like to figure out.

Supposedly the huge pie served 1,000 commuters but our figuring suggests something else. This is a Yummy activity about multiples, proportions, volume and reasoning.

Is this a leap year?


Will we have a 29th of February this year?  How can you tell?

Students work with a flow chart to deduce what years are going to be leap years.  They learn about the exact measurement of a solar year and how our Gregorian calendar needs to be adjusted to align our calendar with the sun's rotation.



My dog, Jorge, wearing his coat on a cold and windy day.

When the weather person talks about wind chill did you ever wonder how they calculate that number?  In this activity students use the National Weather System chart to gauge wind chill, examine the patterns that correlate increasing wind and/or decreasing temperatures, use wind chill numbers to estimate possible wind and temperature factors, and generally become familiar with this sort of interpolation and calculation.  Also check out windchill calculator, which you can use to quickly find the windchill for a given temperature and wind speed.