Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pizza, then Pi and finally Pies — What More Can You Want on Pi Day?

Looking up during π night --
above the activities in the entry foyer was a plethora of circles
beneath students are estimating the circumference of circles by feel
and estimating the number of circular objects in each jar.
Friday, March 14 was Pi Day (3.14). What better excuse is there to have a celebration of math with middle schoolers than π?     About three hundred fifty students, parents, teachers, and volunteers from the high school, PTA and community, celebrated π  at the East Somerville Community School (ESCS) by eating pizza for dinner, then spending an evening estimating, creating, collecting data, answering questions, and ending with pies for everyone and π pencils for the students. 

Drawing a cardioid or nephroid using straight lines.

After enjoying pizza donated by the Bickoff family (discounted by White Sport), the students from East Somerville, who were joined by students from Healey, Argenziano, West Somerville, Brown and Kennedy schools went around to a wide variety of math activities set up in the halls, foyers and auditorium.  These activities included: bicycle wheel roll, guessing contest, tooth pick drop (Buffon Needle problem), drawing a circle the size of a CD, mystery boxes, π button design, π facts quiz, birthday in π, circle in square vs square in circle, drawing cardiod or nephroid, drawing concentric circles by folding, drawing circles by tangents, drawing circle by right angles, reciting digits of π, predicting how high of a pour, predicting circumferences and radii, graphing circumference vs diameter.

Estimating how far a wheel will go on 1.5 and 2.5 rotations.

The event was planned by Scott Weaver (ESCS), Wil Jacques (Healey), Erica Voolich (Somerville Mathematics Fund) and Lindsay Garofalo (ESCS).  Table Talk Pies of Worcester generously supplied small pies for all who came that night and large pies for winners of events.  Table Talk has generously supported this Somerville Math Fund event for eleven years.  Star Market/Shaws (Beacon Street) generously donated most of the juice.

Estimating the number of pieces of round candy in the jar.

Pi Night was sponsored by the Somerville Mathematics Fund.  This year, East Somerville students returned to their rebuilt ESCS building after their long hiatus after the fire which had destroyed their school building.  It seemed appropriate for π night to also return to the ESCS building— the location of the original Somerville Math Fund Pi Night in 2003, planned by Wil Jacques, Mary McClelland, Colleen Murphy and Erica Voolich.

Estimating the volume and surface area
 of three different sized globes.

When planning the first SMF π Night, the Math Fund called the Table Talk Pi Company and explained what π day was and Table Talk generously donated large pies for prizes and small pies for everyone.  Eleven years later, Table Talk Pies is not only still donating to the the Somerville Pi night celebration, but to many more.   In fact, this year Table Talk donated 43,000 pies to schools celebrating pi day.

Students put "Happy π Day from Table Talk" stickers
 on the pies before the π night celebration.

A big thank you to all the volunteers and donors who made this fun, educational evening possible.  It takes a community to celebrate π day!

Pitching pennies to see which is the more difficult target
aiming for the space between the circle and the square. 

The Somerville Mathematics Fund, an affiliate of the national scholarship organization Dollars for Scholars.  They were founded in 2000 with the mission to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville MA.  In April they will be looking for applications for college mathematics scholarships.  For more information, www.somervillemathematicsfund.org or mathfund@gmail.com or call 617-666-0666.

Taking a quiz on π facts.

©Erica Dakin Voolich 2014