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Pi Memorization Contest

Looking for a fun activity for Pi Day? Read on to learn about how I host a digits of pi memorization contest in my high school math classroom.

Memorizing the Digits of Pi Contest with Picture of Trophy with Pi Symbol on It.

Several days before our Pi Day celebration, I informed them of the upcoming holiday.  Most of my students had never heard of pi day before.  I invited students to enter Drumright High School’s First Annual Pi Recitation Contest.  

I told them about a website called Pi Trainer that will help them memorize the digits of pi, but I’m not sure if any of my students actually used it.

Pi Recitation Contest Printable.

If I do say so myself, the prizes for the pi recitation contest were pretty awesome.  The winner from each of my six class periods got their choice of a box of candy.  Well, my sixth hour winner got what was left, but all my other winners got to pick.

boxes of movie theater candy.

And, the student who memorized the most digits all day won the grand prize.  All of the snacks in the grand prizes were circle shaped.  Appropriate, right?  🙂

snacks for prize for digits of pi memorization contest.

The main event of the day was the first annual recitation contest.  Most of my students had not practiced outside of class, so I agreed to set a timer for three minutes to give them some extra review time.  One of my students countered that they deserved three minutes and fourteen seconds to practice.  I agreed that this was fitting and gave him a piece of candy to reward his creative mind!

pi recitation contest in smart notebook.

Since pi is was projected on the SMART Board and on my filing cabinet in the back of the room, I made students stand in the back corner of the room, facing the door, to recite their digits of pi.

file cabinet with digits of pi stenciled on it.

I projected the digits on the board in columns of five so students could easily follow along with the student who was reciting.  This made calculating the number of digits they recited correctly much faster.

The winner, one of my 8th grade Algebra 1 students, memorized 43 digits of pi.  Another 8th grader had memorized more digits, but he sadly made a mistake in his recitation.  You could tell that he was heart broken.

I used to make a beautiful box plot of the number of digits memorized by each student.  This does not take into account the many students who did not participate in the memorization contest.

One of the awesome things about procrastinating in writing this blog post is that I only learned about a few weeks ago.  See, it pays to procrastinate sometimes!

box plot of number of digits of pi memorized.

Throughout the class period, I showed pi day comics between each of our activities.  One of my favorite ones to show each class was this e-card.

Memory tool for learning digits of pi: May I have a large container of coffee?

I put it up on the board without explanation.  When the students read it, I wish I had thought to take a picture of their confused expressions.  What does this have to do with pi day?  Is this a joke?  I don’t get it!  Why did you put this up there?  Is it because she has cups in her hands and the top of the cup is round?

I assured them that it was related to pi day, and I had faith in them that they could figure it out if they put their minds to it.  Eventually, the kids were begging and pleading with me to explain the joke.  Tell us, please!  We want to know!

I gave in and asked the class how many letters were in the first word in the sentence.  3.  How many letters are in the second word?  1.  What about the third word?  4.  Light bulbs started coming on.  My students admitted that it was pretty cool, but they were still a tad mad at me for “trying to trick [them]”.