## Pi Day and Albert Einstein

Today many educators, including math teachers, who are looking for ways to engage students’ minds can sweeten the learning curve by celebrating March 14 (3.14), Pi Day. Just like pi, there are infinite possibilities in motivating students in learning this mathematical constant (as long as they get to eat the examples, of course). Making pies, cookies, cakes, and other circular foods (don’t forget about pizza!) of different sizes can all play a part in motivating students in discovering the wonders of pi.

Students can double down on the learning experience because today is also the birthday of the world’s most celebrated scientist, Albert Einstein. And you can bet that Einstein was no stranger to pi. March 14 is a wonderful opportunity to enlighten your students about the endless fascination to the mathematical constant pi (3.14), and at the same time teach them about the extraordinary life of one of our greatest scientists. Be sure to click on the pi and Albert Einstein images below to open ProQuest Research Topics to learn more on both, or search eLibrary here.

Here are some facts about both Pi and Albert Einstein:

Pi

• Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (circumference divided by diameter).
• Pi is an irrational number meaning that it cannot be written as a fraction and therefore has to be expressed as an infinite non-repeating decimal.
• The Babylonians first calculated the area of a circle around 2,000 B.C.
• Archimedes was the first to use the calculation of pi. He roughly calculated the area of a circle using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the areas of two regular polygons.
• The earliest adoption of the Greek symbol for pi (π) was by William Jones.
• The closest fraction representing pi is 22/7.
• English singer-songwriter Kate Bush has a song called “Pi” in which she sings the number’s first 100 decimal places.

Albert Einstein

• Einstein dropped out of high school and failed his first college entrance exam.
• Adolph Hitler considered Einstein enemy number one. After Hitler’s ascendancy to Chancellor of Germany, he had his house sacked while he was in California. Einstein never returned to Germany.
• Family members say Albert didn’t start to speak until the age of four.

• Einstein was a member of the NAACP. When Einstein arrived in America he was shocked by how African Americans were treated. Before he moved to America he frequently corresponded with civil rights leader and founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Dubois.
• In less than one year in 1905, Einstein, an unknown scientist at the time, wrote and published his Annu mirabilis (The Miracle Year) papers. In these papers, he redefined the laws of physics and altered our views on space, time, mass, and energy, and laid the foundation for all modern physics we know today.
• After Einstein’s death, Princeton University pathologist Thomas Stoltz Harvey performed Einstein’s autopsy. He removed his brain for research purposes but strangely kept it at his house for over 40 years. Some time later in the 1990s, he took the brain on a strange trip across America in the trunk of a Buick Skylark.

## Activities for the 100th Day of School

100th Day of School Collection Poster

Depending on which part of the U.S. you live in, your students will celebrate their 100th day of school pretty soon (it usually occurs in January or February each year). Many schools across the country celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s not only a milestone but also a great opportunity for teachers to practice math with their students. This is especially important in preschool and kindergarten, where students are learning their numbers. But it also provides good activities for all elementary-level students.

For example, you may ask your students to bring in “100” of something. It could be a collection of paperclips, or macaroni noodles, or buttons. The possibilities are endless! When my son was in preschool, he brought in a collection of 100 animal fact cards that we collected from National Geographic Little Kids magazines. We laid out all the cards on the floor and I helped him count all the way to 100. We also practiced counting by 10s. This activity is a good way to introduce more numbers.

See these fun activities that you can use in your classroom:

100th Day of School (Starfall)

Have a 100th Day of School Celebration (Scholastic)

100th Day of School Activities (K-5 Math)

Celebrate the 100th day of school!  (ReadWriteThink)

What Is the 100th Day of School? (VeryWell)

Celebrate the 100th Day of School (Education World)

In SIRS Discoverer, we love to find resources that teachers can use in their classrooms. See our activities page and math resources for more ideas. Also, see this cute story from Highlights for Children entitled 100 Things about a girl who is trying to find 100 things to bring in for the 100th day of school celebration.

## STEM Education Invites Summer Science

Educational interpretations and implementations of STEM–an acronym for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–are as varied as the fields of study themselves. Only one thing is clear: the general consensus of educators and educational professionals is that STEM education can provide enormous benefits for students.

Photo credit: opensourceway / Foter / CC BY-SA

How could it not? In 2009, the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) report showed that U.S. high-school students were ranked 18th in math scores and 13th in science scores. Thirty-four nations participated, so these results were troubling. So troubling, in fact, that–in seeming response to the PISA rankings–the White House issued numerous reports on the significance of STEM education and allocated funding toward STEM initiatives and programs. In 2010, President Obama set a goal of increasing teachers’ and students’ proficiency in STEM fields of study.

President Barack Obama hosts the Science Fair at the State Dining Room of the White House, held for winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. Credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy [Public Domain], via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter

So the question became…how? There are, of course, no easy answers. Possible solutions continue to be pondered, discussed, argued, and carried out in classrooms. Some things have worked, others haven’t. Thus is the evolution of education.

We at ProQuest applaud the efforts toward comprehensive STEM education and celebrate the national attention it has engendered. One goal of STEM education is to instill a sense of curiosity and exploration in students. This goal is one shared by ProQuest and its K-12 products.

Join us this summer in celebration of STEM education and its practice and growth in the United States. STEM disciplines are prominently featured on SIRS Discoverer–our product for young researchers–in its Science topic tree and in Science Fair Explorer. SIRS Issues Researcher offers a number of STEM-related topics in its Leading Issues database, such as Alternative Energy Sources, Biomedical Technology, Genetic Engineering, Nuclear Energy, Ozone Depletion, Space Exploration and Travel, and Technology. Click on any of these topics for up-to-date articles and information. And in the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month for June, Summer Science Projects, we encourage students to see the science, technology, engineering, and math that surrounds them through hands-on activities. Everyone can be a scientist! STEM is all around us…the night sky, a frog’s call, a blooming flower, a car’s engine, an Internet transmission, a deep breath…STEM at work.

If we can impress upon one student the joy of seeing science, technology, engineering, and math all around, we have done our jobs.

## 100th Day of School

Example class bulletin board featuring items that students brought to count for the 100th day of school.
Photo credit: mrsdkrebs / Foter / CC BY

The 100th day of school is fast approaching (it usually occurs in January or February each year). Many schools across the country celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s not only a milestone, but also a great opportunity for teachers to practice math with their students. This is especially important in preschool and kindergarten, where students are learning their numbers. But it also provides good activities for all elementary-level students.

For example, some teachers will ask students to bring in “100” of something. It could be a collection of paperclips, or macaroni noodles, or buttons. The possibilities are endless! This year, my son, who is in preschool, is bringing in a collection of 100 animal fact cards that we collected from National Geographic Little Kids magazines. We laid out all the cards on the floor and I helped him count all the way to 100. In preschool, most children are only counting up to 20, so this activity is a good way to introduce more numbers. It’s also good to count by 10s with them.

100 Things from Highlights for Children is a cute story about a girl who is trying to find 100 things to bring in for the 100th day of school celebration. This story, along with other great math resources, can be found on SIRS Discoverer.

Also see wonderful websites featured in SIRS Discoverer’s WebFind for more ideas on 100th day of school activities:

100th Day of School

Celebrate the 100th day of School

100th Day of School Activities

## STEAM Resources for the Classroom and Library

Fractal Art by werner22brigitte [Public Domain] via Pixabay

STEM + Art = STEAM

STEAM is a movement that integrates an A for the arts into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.  STEAM education was created in 2006 by former teacher Georgette Yakman.

The Creative Component

Advocates of STEAM contend that there should not be a dichotomy between science and art. Instead, art should be seen as a driver of creativity that can foster innovation and spark engagement and learning in science education.

“Engineers, inventors, and designers produce drawings as part of their creative process. They draw to work out and refine concepts and details. They draw to persuade. They draw to give direction. And they draw to record their ideas and to learn from others.”–Doodles, Drafts, and Designs, Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian

Pathway to Economic Growth

John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, sees STEAM as a pathway to fostering U.S. economic growth. Maeda, writing in Edutopia, has said that “[d]esign creates the innovative products and solutions that will propel our economy forward, and artists ask the deep questions about humanity that reveal which way forward actually is.” He cites Apple as well-known example of a company in which design is crucial to the success of technology.

Tried and True

The idea of integrating the arts and sciences in education is nothing new. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, was not only a famous Renaissance artist, but was also a scientist, engineer and inventor. In fact, he used his skills as an artist to draw his mechanical ideas.

“If someone had told Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, or Galileo that the study of science in the 21st century would be separated from the creativity of the arts or the social, cultural, and historical insights into human behavior offered by the humanities, they would have wondered what scientists had done to make the world disrespect them so much.  It’s an odd idea to separate out different kinds of knowledge that inspire and enrich one another in the real world and the virtual too.” – Duke Professor Cathy Davidson