Archimedes and Pi
In this Spreadsheets across the Curriculum activity, students explore the history and physical basis of the mathematical constant, pi. Using Excel, they follow the same steps that Archimedes took to determine the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, including estimation of square root values and the iterative process of cascading right triangles. Finally, students build spreadsheets that allow them to approximate pi using circumscribed polygons.
- use Excel to estimate the square root of 3 using an iterative process.
- use logic functions in Excel to classify results.
- create a spreadsheet to approximate pi using a circumscribed polygon approach.
- understand of the physical basis of pi.
- understand ratios and proportions.
- gain experience with estimation and iteration.
- reinforce their knowledge of basic geometry concepts, specifically the Pythagorean Theorem.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
SSAC2005.QA21.EG1.1_Student Version (PowerPoint 214kB Aug2 07)
This module is a PowerPoint presentation with embedded spreadsheets. If the embedded spreadsheets are not visible, save the PowerPoint file to a disk and open it from there.
This PowerPoint file is the student version of the module. An instructor version is available by request. The instructor version includes the completed spreadsheet. Send your request to Len Vacher (firstname.lastname@example.org) by filling out and submitting the Instructor Module Request Form.