It’s a Convergence! Digital Learning Day, International Pi Day and Friday the 13th
By Martha Sessums
Numbers have power. While they are often a key to solving problems, they are also misused and have superstitious meanings, which can make them even more powerful. And sometimes they’re just fun.
Take today and tomorrow. It’s a convergence of Digital Learning Day (3.13.15), International Pi Day (3.14.15) and Friday the 13th.
Let’s review Digital Learning Day first. Today is the fourth year celebrating and promoting instruction that uses technology to enhance a student’s learning experience. Technology in the classroom isn’t just laptops, apps and devices, it’s the growing attitude that using technology is the key to our future if used in high-quality instruction that provides access to challenging content, provides feedback to the instructor and helps ensure that students reach their full potential to succeed in their chosen college and/or career. That was a long sentence that basically says using technology can make a real difference in learning and teaching.
Digital Learning Day was started to actively spread and promote this strategy – when schools, teachers and students have access to technology that provides high-quality digital learning no matter where learners live, then the learning experience improves.
Yes, mistakes have and will be made as educators pioneer innovations in the classroom. But the purpose and drive to find the right ways (and there are many right ways) to use technology in the classroom will be tested and found.
Then there is International Pi Day, 3.14.15. Only once every 100 years does the Gregorian calendar reflect the first five digits of π, or pi, the value in mathematics that represents the constant ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, which is approximately 3.1415926. The Computer History Museum in San Jose will open early Saturday, granting free admission to anyone in line before 9:26 AM, in honor of the sixth, seventh and eighth digits. There will also be a Raspberry Pi showcase and after-party. The San Francisco Exploratorium (who founded this mathematical holiday) will have pi-themed activities, including an annual march to the Pi Shrine. (OMG! There’s a Pi Shrine!) And it’s a free entrance day. Both places will celebrate with pie – fruit and pizza.
The superstitious part of today is Friday the 13th, or Black Friday. It’s a relatively new (19th century) belief, with no proven history. Although the number 13 and Fridays have long been considered unlucky, it took the 1907 novel by Thomas W. Lawson, Friday, the Thirteenth, to blend the combo. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code sealed the superstition. Nevertheless, it has not been proven that accidents or any other ill events happen more often on a Friday, 13 date.
But these three events are a fun convergence, defined as the tendency for different technological systems to evolve toward performing similar tasks. All three make us think about math in a fun, open way. Use tech for learning, pi for calculating the trajectories of spacecraft or drones and Friday the 13th to beware of irrational numbers (pi is an irrational number,) or any other irrationalities you run into.
Plus, here are a couple of days when it’s cool to eat delicious pie. I’m dreaming of mom’s lemon meringue.