The earliest Pi Day celebration is thought to have occurred in 1988, but the earliest notice I received for my first encounter with Pi Day was 40 minutes.

Pi (π ) is the mysterious constant number defining the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. No matter what size the circle, pi is always the same. Pi, an irrational number, is represented by the Greek symbol π and is calculated to the millionth decimal but most math-y people know it as 3.14159…*

As STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects drew increasing attention, math teachers started celebrating the number pi with pie events on March 14 (3.14, get it?) … activities surrounding the consumption of pie, and pun puzzles using the word pi, are the most popular in my neck of the woods.

Pi Pun, I ate some pie and it was delicious
A pi pun: i (the irrational number); 2x2x2=8; the symbol for sum; the symbol for pi = I ate some pie and it was delicious!

But for my very first encounter with Pi Day, I was caught off guard. My child, a middle schooler, said he was notified in math class on March 13th that students could bring pies – the tasty circular treat, not the constant number – to share in celebration of Pi Day on March 14th.  Assuming my son’s recollection of notification was correct, I wish the teacher managed a little more advance notice. But I wish more that my child remembered to ask about pie during the evening of the 13th, rather than while eating breakfast before school on the 14th.

Pie for pi day
Nutrition police aside, Pi Day is traditionally celebrated with pie.

‘Copter Confession, Pi Assist 1:  In support of STEM teachers and math education and my son, while he finished his fried egg sandwich, I threw on real clothes and shoes. He usually walked to school, but we climbed into the car, turned away from his school and headed 10 minutes in the wrong direction to purchase a pie for Pi Day.

‘Copter Confession, Pi Assist 2+:  In subsequent years, in support of STEM teachers and math education and both my children, I had Pi Day marked on my calendar.  When frozen pies (the kind you defrost and eat without baking) came on sale in the weeks before March 14th, I bought two and kept them in the freezer. On Pi Day, when my son remembered while eating breakfast, that he needed a pie, I remained in my robe and slippers, and pulled a pie out of the freezer. He stuffed it into his backpack and headed off to school. Sometimes my daughter remembered in advance and made time to bake her own pie. When that started to occur, I bought pies that were green so they could double as family dessert for St. Patrick’s Day when it wasn’t needed to celebrate the beauty of math.

A recovering ‘copter parent, I confess to hovering over Pi Day activities each year from middle school through high school, for BOTH of my children. I should make amends, and I know paving the way was wrong, but it seemed a good tradeoff – a small violation of airspace to support STEM education.

Pi Day Countdown

* π is calculated to the millionth place, it starts…  3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196442881097566593344612847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861045432664821339360726024914127372458700660631558817488152092096282925409171536436789259036001133053054882046652138414695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738193261179310511854807446237996274956735188575272489122793818301194912983367336244065664308602139494639522473719070217986094370277053921717629317675238467481846766940513200056812714526356082778577134275778960917363717872146844090122495343014654958537105079227968925892354201995611212902196086403441815981362977477130996051870721134999999837297804995105973173281609631859502445945534690830264252230825334468503526193118817101000313783875288658753320838142061717766914730359825349042875546873115956286388235378759375195778185778053217122680661300192787661119590921642019…
(Thanks Pi Day.Org … Learn more about Pi Day)