Event format

Pi Day Live was a free event open to all. It started at 1.59pm GMT on 14 March 2013 and lasted for around 50 minutes:

  • 0-15 minutes: Introduction – A short talk from Marcus du Sautoy about pi and a reminder of the methods we are going to use to rediscover pi.
  • 15-30 minutes: Find Pi Activity – Time to do your chosen method of finding pi and upload your results to the Oxford Connect website. (Those in the online lecture theatre will also be able to discuss pi with an Oxford University maths expert.)
  • 30-45 minutes: Review – Marcus reviews the results so far and responds to questions that have come in via the online lecture theatre, Twitter and Facebook.

There is one of the finding pi activities that we asked that as many people as possible to do.

There were two main ways to get connected to the event:

1. The ‘Big Screen’

This was a live video of Marcus du Sautoy which was on the Oxford Connect website and is powered by YouTube. The recording of the video is now available on the homepage. (Please check that you can view YouTube videos.) This was the easiest way to get connected as most computers can run YouTube without you having to install any software and you don’t need to register for the event.

Teacher note

Please see further advice about YouTube on the technical support page.

During the activity section of the event, people taking part were able to see Marcus using one of our methods to derive pi while they attempted the method they chose to use. They were then able to upload their results into the 'What's your pi?' section of the homepage.

2. The Online Lecture Theatre

This was run in Blackboard Collaborate and required people to register for the event. Everyone was asked to check that they could run this software before registering. (If anyone wasn't sure that their computer could run Blackboard Collaborate then they could still get connected by the ‘Big Screen’ as above.)

The online lecture theatre contained a live video feed of Marcus du Sautoy, a supporting power-point, and an open text chat area. The session was overseen by professional online moderators.

Teacher note

We recommended putting the online lecture theatre up on a single screen in front of a class rather than having all of the pupils logged in to separate computers. This is a good set-up for the activity portion of the event.

During the introduction all participants were together in the room and text chat was open. (Teacher note: This, in our opinion, is socially similar in format to taking a class to a public place such as a field trip to a town centre.)

When the activity time started, participants were split into one of three sub-groups. Each had a moderator and were joined by an Oxford University maths student. (Schools were placed in their own sub-group(s) to ensure that discussion was at the right level). At this point participants were able to use the text chat facility to ask the Oxford students questions about the methods used to find pi or about what it’s like to do maths at Oxford. During the activity time participants were able to upload their results to the Oxford Connect website where were collating them. There was a countdown timer on screen so it’s clear when we were due to re-join Marcus to review the activities.

Teacher note

We recommended at this point that teachers might want to mute the sound if they felt that the class needed to focus on the activity and not be distracted by the discussion. As pupils generated results, these could be uploaded to the Oxford Connect website.

After 15 minutes of activity time we re-assembled everyone into one main group again so that Marcus could review the results and respond to questions. 

Social Media

Everyone was encouraged to ask questions or talk about their pi activity via @OxUniConnect or on our Facebook page. This was a great way to connect with us if people were watching the ‘Big Screen’.