Celebrating Pi Day: Finding Math in the Real World

Oct 20, 2023
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March 14 is Pi Day! Every year, educators and students (plus a few die-hard math enthusiasts) celebrate the useful mathematical constant that begins with the digits 3.14. The day is always a crowd-pleaser with students, thanks to classroom celebrations involving different kinds of pie, but it’s also a great chance to encourage flipping the narrative when it comes to success in mathematics.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m just bad at math” or “I am just not a numbers person”? For years, there has been a social norm that dismisses poor math achievement as acceptable. Every student can (and should) experience success in math, as it is directly correlated to future success. Research shows that success in math provides students with college and career options, increases prospects for future income and improves social and economic outcomes later in life. It’s important that we build classroom cultures where math success is about effort to learn the subject, not an inherent talent.

One way to build this type of classroom culture and reverse declining math trends is to point out the practical value of mathematics in general. Allowing students to see how math is used every day gives them a chance to see how crucial math is for success in school and beyond. Following are 10 real-world applications of math to introduce to your students:

  1. Measuring ingredients for recipes
  2. Determining the total cost of food at the grocery store sold by weight
  3. Calculating sports statistics like win/loss ratios, batting averages, and goals per game
  4. Finding out how much money will be saved by using a coupon
  5. Plotting out the most efficient route on a map
  6. Determining interest earned in a savings account or accrued on a loan
  7. Calculating the time difference between different cities
  8. Reading a sheet of music to understand the time signature, counting, and rhythm of a song
  9. Completing household projects, like assembling furniture, building a deck, or buying paint
  10. Predicting the path of rain and snowstorms

Getting students excited about math may not always be the simplest task for teachers, but building a solid foundation of math skills is critical to success in the classroom—and it simply makes life easier! So, take advantage of this Pi Day to share a tasty classroom treat, and sell your students on the benefits of math learning and its real-world applications.

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