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How was the math constant called "pi" discovered  and could you have discovered it? Well, yes, with a bit of close work, you can uncover the clever idea and source of the concept, as well as get its nolonger abstract meaning and find an approximate value. It is wrapped up in every circle and sphere––but where and how could you have envisioned it in the nature of circles? Keep reading for detailed instructions for your jump into discoveries in math.
Steps
Method 1
Method 1 of 4:Using the Basic Geometry of the Circle in a Plane
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1Begin freshening your understanding of the geometry of the circle in a plane. You know a lot about the point, plane, and space, and they're not even defined in the study of geometry, but they are described as they are used.
 What is a circle? The following information needs to form part of your (basic) understanding of things about circles, but one can learn a lot more as you go along.
 equidistant  is short for "of equal distance"
 circle  all the points equidistant, from the center (center point).
 The following facts relate to but are not part of the circle:
 center  the point equidistant from any point of the circle,
 radius  the segment (names the length) between one endpoint at the center and the other end on the circle (it's that "equal distance" mentioned),
 diameter  the segment (names the length) through the center and between its two endpoints on the circle,
 segment, area, sector, and included or inscribed shapes within, but not part of, the circle, and

circumference  the distance one time around the circle.
 Yeah, that word is long and odd; so, think of "the distance around circularfence."
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Method 2
Method 2 of 4:Creating a Formula
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1Discover your circumference formula: The diameter can be curved and placed end to end around the circle, about three timesmeaning that: three diameters plus a small fraction of diameter = Circumference. Let's call that C = 3 X d, approximately. Done (that was too easy...), just as you would have had to do originally while discovering circumference about 3000 or 4000 years ago; now you will clean that idea up... In ancient times, math was like a mystical study and your "discovery" was part of the expression of mathematical mysteries.

2Absorb that rough, intuitive idea of pi, about 3, and realize it's easily demonstrated that it is not exactly three. Now you will make it more accurate.Advertisement
Method 3
Method 3 of 4:Discovering Pi More Precisely
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1Number four different sizes of circular containers or lids. A globe or ball (sphere) can work also, but it's harder to measure.

2Get a nonstretchy, nonkinky string and a meterstick, yardstick, or ruler.

3Make a chart (or table) like the following one: Circumference  diameter  quotient C / d = ?
 ____________________________________
 ____________________________________
 ____________________________________
 ____________________________________

4Measure accurately around each of the four circular items by wrapping a string snugly around it. Mark the distance one time around it on the string. This is the circumference: it's just like perimeter, but, the perimeter of a circlethe distance around a circleis called the circumference, not perimeter, usually.

5Straighten and measure the part of the string that you marked as the distance around the circle. Write down your measurement of the circumference using decimals. Pin or tape the ends of the string for measuring it accurately (straight and extended to its full measure), since you would have needed to tighten the string around the circular object, so now you would tighten it lengthwise.

6Turn the container upside down so you can find and mark the center on the bottom so that you can measure the diameter using decimals (also called decimalfractions).

7Measure across each circle exactly through the center of each of the four items with a straight edge measure (meterstick, yardstick or ruler). This is the diameter.
 Note: Multiplying two times radius, i.e.: "2 X radius = diameter" is also written as "2r = d".

8Divide each circumference by the same circle's diameter. The four division problems of C / d = _____, should be about 3 or 3.1 (or about 3.14 if your measurements are accurate); so what is pi: It's a number. It's a ratio. It relates diameter to circumference. Of course, using precise measurements using dividers, which are similar to a compass can help.

9Average the four answers to the division problem by adding those four quotients and dividing by 4, and that should give a more accurate result (for example, if your four divisions gave you: 3.1 + 3.15 + 3.1 + 3.2 = ____ /4 = ____? That's 12.55 / 4 = 3.1375, and can be rounded off to 3.14).
That's the idea of "pi". The number of diameters that makes the circumference (all the time, so it's constant)... That is the constant "pi". That number of diameters. Also, the radius will fit a little more than 6 (2 times pi) times around a circle, as well as knowing that the diameter goes three times; so, that implies a circumference formula C = 2 X 3.14 X r, which is just = 3.14 X d ... by using 2r is d ("Got it", nod yes. "Yeah!" But, read and think over it again until it really soaks in, if it's not yet crystal clear).

10Finally, take the diameter string and use it to cut its length off the circumference string three times. Do this for each of the containers. The leftover piece of string from each of the circumference strings cutouts will be approximately the same length. The measurement length of this short piece of string should be .1415 which is just an example of getting approximately 3.14...Advertisement
Method 4
Method 4 of 4:Using Teacher Hints
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1Help students to really enjoy this exercise. This could be a great turnon moment, one of those moments where they feel like: "I get it! Wow!", "I like math more than ever/more than I thought". Treat this as a scientific experiment, as sort of a "math/science" crosscurricular assignment.

2Makeup a mysterious assignment sheet for a class or outside project, if you are a teacher or tutor.

3Hint a bit. "Show them, or let them show you, but do not tell them! Let them discover things." If it's a giveaway, then the outcome is too easy for what it is all showing. So instead, make it so that students can discover it as a mystery and have a "Eureka! experience...", not just hear or read about an experiment.
 You wouldn't want to push straight through a reading or lecture presentation as here, but be subtle at first––lead, facilitate, then clarify it after getting students to present their charts as posters of what they discovered––their way! Students can post their presentations on a math wall, and be proud of their quickwits, cleverness, working through it!

4Use this as a great inclass project (cross teaching) "artmathart" assignment––or for your students to take home as a project for extra credit outside math class. And, after you apply this one, you might like to explore leading to be a great teacher.Advertisement
Community Q&A

QuestionHow can I verify the value of pi using circles of different diameters?DonaganTop AnswererAssuming you know (or can accurately measure) the diameter and circumference of the circles, just divide the circumference by the diameter, and you should get pi. Theoretically this will work with any circle.

QuestionHow is pi defined?DonaganTop AnswererPi is the relationship (or the ratio) of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

QuestionHow can I find the Pi values for five different circles?Community AnswerFollow the instructions above. The pi values should all be nearly the same.

QuestionCan pi be said to be equal to the circumference divided by the diameter?Community AnswerYes, the definition of pi is the circumference of any circle divided by the diameter of said circle.

QuestionHow do I calculate the value of a diameter?Community AnswerIf you know the circle's circumference, divide it by pi.

QuestionHow do I find the value of pi by taking 3 different circular objects?DonaganTop AnswererAs noted above, you can divide each circle's circumference by its respective diameter, then find the average of the three quotients (which you do by adding the quotients together and dividing by 3).
Video
Tips
 (By the way: the arc on a circle which is as long as the radius is called a "rad." It is a constant used in trigonometry and calculus.)Thanks!
 That little fraction more than 3 times that the diameter will fit around the circle is about 1/7 of diameter = approximately 0.14, and 3 X (7/7) = 21/7 and that plus the 1/7 is 22/7 = 3.14 approx, but the larger the circle the more that inaccuracy will be apparent (0.14 X 7 = 0.98, off by 0.02 = 2/100 = 2% under diameter; actually 22/7 is more accurate than 3.14, but this value 22/7 is about 1/8 of 1% of diameter overvalued).Thanks!
 You can see historical listings on a chart for the value of pi and their chronology/timeline, showing early ideas on through modern calculations of millions of digits.Thanks!
 Formula: Circumference = pi X diameter.
 Solve for pi as follows:
Thanks!  Solve for pi as follows:
C = pi X d
C/d = (pi X d)/d
C/d = (pi)d/d
C/d = pi X 1 because d/d = 1 so that gives us
C/d = pi
The ratio C/d "defines" the constant pi, regardless of a circle's size, in geometric equations, but π also occurs in areas of mathematics that do not directly involve geometry.
 Pi is the letter p, π in Greek. A stated approximation of pi was devised by the Greek philosopher Archimedes of Syracuse (287212 BC). He obtained the following inequality:
223/71 < π < 22/7
Archimedes knew that π does not equal 22/7, but made no claim to have discovered a more exact value. If we estimate pi as the average of 223/71 and 22/7, then his two bound give us 3.1418, an error of about 0.0002 (two 100ths of 1% error). About fifteen centuries earlier than Archimedes the Egyptian Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, a page from an ancient text explaining math problems, used "pi = 256 / 81". That is (16/9)^{2}, about 3.16 (compare that to 25/8 = 3.125).^{[1] X Research source "Rhind Mathematical Papyrus" }
 Archimedes (around 250BC) also used value of pi = 256/81 = sum of = 3 + 1/9 + 1/27 + 1/81, and also the Egyptians using 3 + 1/13 + 1/17 + 1/160 (= 3.1415) for pi in problem 50 of the Egyptian Rhind Mathematical Papyrus.^{[2] X Research source }
Thanks!
Things You'll Need
 5 different sizes of circular containers (small, medium, large, larger, or very large)
 String (not stiff or kinky)
 Tape/pins
 Meterstick, yardstick or ruler
 Chart
 Pen or pencil
 Calculator (optional if you need one)
References
 ↑ "Rhind Mathematical Papyrus"
 ↑ University of Buffalo, New State Univ system, "Determining the Value of Pi"  http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/AncientAfrica/mad_ancient_egypt_geometry.html