IED, EA part of Pi Day 2014 celebrations
March 13, 2014
The trundle wheel, a sundial and an astrolabe were just some of the exciting mathematical instruments at the Institute for Educational Development, East Africa’s stall at celebrations in the run-up to Pi Day.
In Tanzania, Pi Day is a popular among educators and mathematicians. Pi (π) is a mathematical constant – the ratio of the circumference of any circle to its diameter – calculated to be 3.14159. March 14 is taken to mark Pi Day – after the American date style 3/14 – dedicated to raising awareness, interest and appreciation of mathematics among students, teachers, educators and the wider public.
Globally, Pi Day has been celebrated for over 30 years but celebrations in this country began only a decade ago, in 2004. To mark the 10th anniversary, the Mathematical Association of Tanzania conducted a two-day event at the Mnazi Mmoja Park in Dar es Salaam.
On ‘pre’ Pi Day, 18 exhibitors and 6 book publishers put up stalls and displays attracting at least 900 schoolchildren and 60 schoolteachers. IED, EA was the only university participating in the event.
IED’s SIGMAS – the Special Interest Group in Mathematics and Science – led the preparations, which included the development of teaching-learning resources for the exhibition. Seventeen participants from the Master of Education programme and faculty members Dr Simon Karuku, Mussa Mohammed and Veronica Sarungi attended the stall.
The astrolabe and sundial piqued the curiosity of many schoolchildren and teachers, some of whom had never set their eyes on these instruments before. Nearly everyone who came to the stall were introduced to how these very unusual tools were used even though both rely on advanced trigonometry concepts. Meanwhile, trundle wheels made from locally available material tapped into culturally shared childhood practices.
Veronica Sarungi, a Professional Development Tutor at IED, EA and the stall coordinator, said “The energy and enthusiasm of the course participants in explaining the resources was matched by the interest and enjoyment of students and teachers who came to listen to them.”
“Pre-Pi Day and the preparations leading up to it were truly a teaching-learning experience for everyone involved. We were proud to be the only university that participated in this very important event to promote mathematics education and bring about positive change,” Ms Sarungi added.
Ultimately, participation by IED was an opportunity for both teaching and learning. The message that was conveyed was that mathematics can be fun at all levels of life.