Math = Love: Square Pi Puzzle For Pi Day

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Square Pi Puzzle For Pi Day

Since this next week is spring break, my students and I celebrated an early Pi Day on Friday, March 10th.  Most of the activities we did were my usual "go-to" pi day activities.  We had a contest to see who could memorize the most digits of pi.  We wrote pi-kus (think haiku but with 3 - 1 - 4 syllables in each line).  We searched for our birthdays in the digits of pi.  We watched some pi day themed Youtube videos.  We ate way too many sweets.

This year, though, I found a new idea that I HAD to try!  It all started when a I did a google images search for "pi day puzzle."  I ran across this "Easy As Pi Puzzle" from MathIsFun.com

Image Source: http://www.mathsisfun.com/puzzles/as-easy-as-pi.html 
The solution to the puzzle notes that the puzzle was created by Stephen Froggatt.

I copied and pasted the puzzle to a Publisher file so I could print two to a page.


I uploaded the file I created for this puzzle here.

I printed the puzzles on different colors of paper and laminated them using my trusty Scotch laminator (affiliate link).  First, I cut out the pi shapes.


Then, I cut apart the pi shaped puzzles into the five individual pieces.  Each puzzle went into its own snack sized bag.  I buy these in the biggest box Wal-mart sells.  They come in so useful for all of the activities I create for my classroom!


As I was cutting out these pieces, I was multi-tasking and reading my e-mail at the same time.

I opened Chris Smith's maths newsletter (subscribe by e-mailing Chris at aap03102@gmail.com) and found the very same puzzle!

Image Source: Chris Smith's Maths Newsletter


Each student took out their bag to find five pieces.


I told them that their first challenge was to make a square using all five pieces.  Some students protested that we had already done this before.  I told them we had done a similar puzzle, but this one was different.  If you're interested in more puzzles like this, I recommend the 1-4-5 Square Challenge.  I also have a tub of tangrams (affiliate link) in my room that we use occasionally.

I kinda thought making the square was going to be TOO easy because I was able to put it together on my first try.  But, my students found this to be plenty difficult!  Many of them gave up.

Here is how one of my students interpreted the square challenge:






I had many students call me over and ask if something like this counted as a square.





See, here is another student asking me if this counts as a square.


Finally someone figures it out!  See, it is possible!


One of my students ended up making an isosceles triangle instead of a square.  


The second challenge for students was to take their five pieces and make the pi symbol.

I taped one of my uncut pi symbols on the board so that students could see exactly what the pi symbol was supposed to look like.  When I gave this challenge to my husband, he created a pi-ish symbol, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting.


Usually my students' first response on seeing the pi shape was to say that it would be impossible to create using their five pieces.  They didn't believe me when I told them that I had cut apart that very pi symbol to make their five pieces!



Oh, I guess it is possible!




This activity is definitely a pi-day keeper!  File uploaded here.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! I was looking for activities for my middle school students and this is perfect!

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  2. I love it! Trying to figure out how to sneak it in to German class...

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  3. This would be awesome if someone could figure out how to have the finished product a circle instead of a square.

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