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Tossing Pi Activity

This tossing pi activity generates the digits of pi after collecting data from tossing toothpicks on a sheet of paper. Students will be shocked at the results!

Here are the instructions:

Ideally, this activity, also known as Buffon’s Needles, is used to reach an approximation of pi.  Some of my group’s approximations were much more accurate than others.

Students had to work carefully to construct parallel lines whose distance apart was the exact length of a toothpick.

Giving students toothpicks often leads to unintended activities.  One group decided to make pretty designs with their toothpicks.

Another group was highly disappointed when I wouldn’t give them more toothpicks to continue building their toothpick tower.

Students laid their papers on the floor and tossed the toothpicks from their desktops.

After tossing all of their toothpicks, they used the given formula to approximate pi.  We didn’t really have much time to get into why exactly this process works.