The NASA Pi Day Challenge is an illustrated math problem set that gets students solving some of the same problems NASA scientists and engineers must solve to explore space.

Topics: Education, Einstein, Humor, Mathematics, NASA, STEM

Math Symbol Pronounce Like
ex, dx, dx
e to the x dee ex, dee ex
ex, dx, dx
e to the x dee ex, dee ex
Cosine
kōˌsīn
Secant
sēˌkant,ˈor sēˌkənt
Tangent
tanjənt
Sine
sīn (long "i" sound)
3.14159...
three point one four one five nine

YAY TEAM!

The engineer's cheer (supposedly from MIT). Lowercase "e" is the natural logarithm (also an irrational number), "dx" in Calculus defines small, infinitesimal change in the variable x; four Trigonometric terms and Pi (symbol: π) you know.

Once you see it, you can't UN-SEE it. I have officially corrupted you.

Also to note: Albert Einstein's birthday happens to be today. In 2015, National Pi Day had some significance as it was his birthday and the year General Relativity was confirmed observing the phenomena we now know as Gravitational Lensing 100 years prior, giving rise to studying a now popular enigma of the universe: Black Holes.

NASA is giving space fans a reason to celebrate Pi Day, the March 14 holiday created in honor of the mathematical constant pi. For the fourth year in a row, the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created an illustrated Pi Day Challenge featuring four math problems NASA scientists and engineers must solve to explore space. The challenge is designed to get students excited about pi and its applications beyond the classroom. This year’s problem set, designed for students in grade six through high school – but fun for all – features Mars craters, a total solar eclipse, a close encounter with Saturn, and the search for habitable worlds.

Educators, get the standards-aligned Pi Day Challenge lesson and download the free poster and handouts. The answers to all four problems will be released in a companion infographic on March 16.

Why March 14?

Pi is what’s known as an irrational number, meaning its decimal representation never ends and it never repeats. It has been calculated to more than one trillion digits, but NASA scientists and engineers actually use far fewer digits in their calculations (see “How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?”). The approximation 3.14 is often precise enough, hence the celebration occurring on March 14, or 3/14 (when written in US month/day format). The first known celebration occurred in 1988, and in 2009, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution designating March 14 as Pi Day and encouraging teachers and students to celebrate the day with activities that teach students about pi.

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