Pi Darts

So what is pi? Many teachers have students 'find' pi by measuring a quarter. Measure its diameter, measure its circumference (roll it across a piece of paper) and do the division. What about standing at the far side of the room and throwing darts at a dart board instead?

This spreadsheet illustrates finding Pi with the Monte Carlo method and comparing the area of a circle with the area of a circumscribed square by counting random points in and out of the circle.

There are applets on the web that do this, but I use this as a quick 'teaser' introduction to macros (as well as a little review of some mathematics) at the end of a two-day unit using Excel to explore some statistics with Algebra II students. It's been one of my favorite problems since I was shown it in 1967 in high school.



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