Thursday, February 3, 2011

Geometry of Biblical Proportions, or The Problem of Pi

After we read Sir Cumference and The Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander, we watched the similarly themed episode of Cyberchase entitled "Spheres of Fears", which right now you can view on the PBS Kids site.

I thought, maybe, the Cyberchase episode did a little better job explaining the concept of Pi, than the Sir Cumference story, but the medieval characters, and settings are a lot less creepy, than those found in Cyberchase. Really, I wish the people at PBS would get together with the animators from the Jane and the Dragon series, and do a Sir Cumference series. Neuschwander might need to write a few more books first, though. Which, I also hope she does.

We pulled our hands on activity right out of the show. I gave the children a number of different sized circles, and cylinders...

...and they measured the diameters...

...and, using a string, and a ruler, the circumferences.

Then, they divided the circumferences by the diameters, and discovered no matter the size of the circle, the circumference was always just over 3 times bigger than the diameter.

Their numbers varied a little, because they weren't terribly accurate with their measuring, but they were all close enough to get the idea. Speaking of being close enough, while we were still on the topic of Pi, I had them flip over to 1 Kings 7:23, referring to the building of Solomon's temple:

Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7.5 feet deep, and about 45 feet in circumference.

The children were pretty surprised to find diameters, and circumferences in the Bible. Of course, the math seems to be off, since 45/15 = 3, and not 3.14.

This didn't bother the children at all, since in their minds 3, and 3.14 are pretty well the same thing. But, since they won't always be children, and because this is just exactly the sort of thing a secular university professor might love to throw in the face of an unsuspecting freshman, I took them over to the Answers in Genesis article, "Contradictions: As Easy As Pi", which you can check out too, by clicking the link, if you're interested.

Or, for more Bible themed fun, and activities, check out this week's Bible Alive! Tuesday link-up, over at The Fantastic Five (and yes, I know this is not Tuesday, I just happen to be running behind).

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Unknown said...

I NEVER thought about bringing math into Bible lessons, or vise versa- what an EXCELLENT idea!

Anonymous said...

We love this book here at our house! We love the whole series , it has sparked many many learning curves.
Thanks for sharing your awesome day!

Ticia said...

I'd chalk up some of the error to the translation also

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I like the idea of calculating PI on real objects - it almost looks magical. We will definitely be doing it one day.