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The 2021 NASA Pi Day Challenge is Here!
Teachable Moment: Take Math to Mars and Beyond With NASA's Pi Day Challenge

As March 14 approaches, it's time to get ready to celebrate Pi Day! It's the annual holiday that pays tribute to the number that results from dividing any circle's circumference by its diameter. Pi is used all the time at NASA to explore Earth, Mars, and worlds beyond.


Pi Day comes around only once a year, giving us a reason to chow down on our favorite sweet and savory pies while we appreciate the mathematical marvel that helps NASA explore Earth, the solar system, and beyond. There's no better way to observe this day than by getting students exploring space right along with NASA by doing the math in our Pi Day Challenge.

Visit our Teachable Moments blog to find out how students can put their math mettle to the test and solve real problems faced by NASA scientists and engineers as they explore the cosmos! Plus, explore the resources below to discover even more ways to celebrate Pi Day with NASA.

 
Teachable Moment: Take Math to Mars and Beyond With NASA's Pi Day Challenge

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

Take Math to Mars and Beyond With NASA's Pi Day Challenge

Learn about pi and the history of Pi Day before exploring some of the ways the number is used at NASA. Then, try the math for yourself in our Pi Day Challenge.

Read the Blog

Pi Day Resources

Educator Guides: Pi Day Challenge Lessons

Here's everything you need to bring the NASA Pi Day Challenge into the classroom.

 

Mathematics | Grades 4-12

Time: Varies

Student Slideshow: NASA Pi Day Challenge

The entire NASA Pi Day Challenge collection can be found in one, handy slideshow for students.

 

Mathematics | Grades 4-12

Time: Varies

Mobile & Web Backgrounds

Mobile & Web Backgrounds

Can't get enough pi? Download this year's NASA Pi Day Challenge graphics as mobile phone and web meeting backgrounds:

Student Article: 18 Ways NASA Uses Pi

Whether it's sending spacecraft to other planets, driving rovers on Mars, finding out what planets are made of or how deep alien oceans are, pi takes us far at NASA. Find out how pi helps us explore space.

Article: How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?

While you may have memorized more than 70,000 digits of pi, world record holders, a JPL engineer explains why you really only need a tiny fraction of that for most calculations.

Article: 10 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day With NASA on March 14

Find out what makes pi so special, how it's used to explore space, and how you can join the celebration with resources from NASA.

Related Lessons for Educators

Educator Guide: Robotic Arm Challenge

In this challenge, students will use a model robotic arm to move items from one location to another. They will engage in the engineering design process to design, build and operate the arm.

 

Engineering | Grades K-8

Time: 30-60 minutes

Educator Guide: Whip Up a Moon-Like Crater

Whip up a moon-like crater with baking ingredients as a demonstration for students.

 

Science | Grades 1-6

Time: 30-60 minutes

Educator Guide: Make a Paper Mars Helicopter

In this lesson, students build a paper helicopter, then improve the design and compare and measure performance.

 

Engineering | Grades 2-8

Time: 30-60 minutes

Educator Guide: Speaking in Phases

Students learn how waves are used in communication between far-away spacecraft and the Deep Space Network on Earth.

 

Science | Grades 3-8

Time: 30-60 minutes

Educator Guide: Catching a Whisper from Space

Students kinesthetically model the mathematics of how NASA communicates with spacecraft.

 

Mathematics | Grades 4-12

Time: 1-2 hours

Educator Guide: Collecting Light: Inverse Square Law Demo

In this activity, students learn how light and energy are spread throughout space. The rate of change can be expressed mathematically, demonstrating why spacecraft like NASA's Juno need so many solar panels.

 

Science | Grades 6-8

Time: Less than 30 minutes

Educator Guide: Build a Relay Inspired by Space Communications

In this intermediate-level programming challenge, students use microdevices along with light and mirrors to build a relay that can send information to a distant detector.

 

Technology | Grades 8-12

Time: 1-2 hours

Educator Guide: Math Rocks: A Lesson in Asteroid Dynamics

Students use math to investigate a real-life asteroid impact.

 

Mathematics | Grades 8-12

Time: 30-60 minutes

Related Activities for Students

Student Project: Code a Mars Helicopter Video Game

Create a video game that lets players explore the Red Planet with a helicopter like the one going to Mars with NASA's Perseverance rover!

 

Project | Technology

Student Project: Make a Paper Mars Helicopter

Build a paper helicopter, then see if you can improve the design like NASA engineers did when making the first helicopter for Mars.

 

Project | Engineering

Student Video: How Does NASA Spot a Near-Earth Asteroid?

Watch this one-minute video to find out how NASA spots and tracks asteroids that fly close to Earth.

 

Video | Science

Student Slideshow: What's That Space Rock?

Find out how to tell the difference between asteroids, comets, meteors, meteorites and other bodies in our solar system.

 

Slideshow | Science

Share the Pi Day Fun!

Share: Pi Day: What's Going 'Round

Tell us what you're up to this Pi Day and share your stories and photos on our showcase page.

Plus, join the conversation using the hashtag #NASAPiDayChallenge on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Explore More

Live Stream: Taking Flight – How Girls Can Grow Up to Be Engineers

UPCOMING LIVE STREAM

Taking Flight – How Girls Can Grow Up to Be Engineers

Join NASA for a webinar with a talented team of women engineers who work on Mars every day.

Watch Online

About Us

The Education team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory brings the wonder of NASA missions and science to students and educators to inspire and engage the next generation of explorers. Learn more about our offerings at the links below:

 
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