How to Estimate the Value of Pi

MIT Blossoms

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This lesson is about the estimation of the value of Pi. Based on previous knowledge, the students try to estimate Pi value using different methods, such as: direct physical measurements; a geometric probability model; and computer technology. This lesson is designed to stimulate the learning interests of students, to enrich their experience of solving practical problems, and to develop their critical thinking ability. To understand this lesson, students should have some mathematic knowledge about circles, coordinate systems, and geometric probability. They may also need to know something about Excel. To estimate Pi value by direct physical measurements, the students can use any round or cylindrical shaped objects around them, such as round cups or water bottles. When estimating Pi value by a geometric probability model, a dartboard and darts should be prepared before the class. You can also use other games to substitute the dart throwing game. For example, you can throw marbles to the target drawn on the floor. This lesson is about 45-50 minutes. If the students know little about Excel, the teacher may need one more lesson to explain and demonstrate how to use the computer to estimate Pi value. Downloadable from the website is a video demonstration about how to use Excel for estimating Pi.

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Lesson tags: 
Good for Parents
Creative Commons License: 
Attribution Non-commercial NoDerivative CC (BY-NC-ND)