By Michelle Erica Green
my son can recite
pi to twenty digits but
I can eat more pie
The explanation for the poem above is that we spent the afternoon at Pi Day at the Maryland Science Center, where writing haikus about Pi and pie was one of the activities. Pi Day actually commemorates Albert Einstein's birthday -- his 130th this year, I believe -- but since he happened to be born on 3.14, science museums in the U.S. have adopted the date as a celebration of both Einstein and the mathematical constant. The Maryland Science Center (of which we are members) offered an irresistible incentive to visit in the form of free pie, plus a pie-eating contest, a Pi-reciting contest and the aforementioned pieku writing.
Prizes for the Pi recitation contest. Adam won a dinosaur egg with a little brachiosaurus inside. Daniel refused to participate on the grounds that some people at his school know Pi to more than a hundred digits, even though he knows far more than the average person.
Information about both Pi and pie had been posted, including such tidbits as the fact that the average American eats six slices of pie a year, apple is the favorite flavor among those surveyed by Crisco, and shoo-fly pie was originally created to sit on windowsills to lure insects away from the kitchen.
So many people wanted to enter the pie-eating contests that registration was required for a lottery to determine who would get to participate. The fact that the prizes were gift certificates for more pies and the opportunity to throw pies at the museum president were undoubtedly incentives.
Here is Daniel enjoying one of the Mrs Freshley's packaged cherry pies being given out to visitors. We got both cherry and apple as the afternoon wore on.
Visitors also helped to illustrate a giant chalk Pi outside the museum...
...checked their vision at a Pi eye chart, and played with hula hoops (just don't ask me to figure out the circumference, with or without Pi).
And there was a birthday card to Einstein for people to sign.
It was a cool, drizzly day in Baltimore, perfect for spending mostly indoors in a building with huge windows overlooking the harbor without actually having to stand in the rain to appreciate the ships. In addition to the Pi activities, we saw the planetarium show on dark matter -- which Adam summarized has replaced "God" as an explanation for things scientists can't otherwise work out -- visited the Maryland wildlife on the top floor, and visited most of the hands-on activities and exhibits (dinosaurs, weather, the human body, etc.) We decided we really needed to have pizza pie for dinner, then we watched the Xena two-parter ending with "The Ides of March" because Caesar really shouldn't be neglected on the eve of that date and Xena is always awesome.