If it’s been a few years since your last middle school math class, you might have forgotten learning about Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference (distance around) to its diameter (distance across). The value of Pi is always 3.14.
Ring any bells?
It turns out Pi is also one of the most celebrated numbers around.
According to the New York Times, 31 years ago, physicist Larry Shaw decided Pi deserved its own day to be recognized, and when else would Pi Day be if not 3.14 or March 14? He organized the first celebration at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and math enthusiasts across the world have joined the ranks to celebrate Pi Day ever since.
While the observance may still be a little obscure, it’s not just for math nerds. Whether you’ve got a thing for numbers or just like to have a good time, you can geek out and enjoy Pi Day right here in Pensacola.
The Pensacola MESS Hall in Downtown Pensacola would be a good place to start your Pi Day celebration. Opened in 2012, its mission is “to inspire curiosity, experimentation and creative problem solving through exploration of math, engineering, science and stuff,” which is where the acronym MESS originates.
But the MESS Hall isn’t your typical science museum. As in a military mess hall, visitors pick up a lunch tray, only instead of food you receive a mess kit with any of an assortment of experiments inside. My daughters and I have tried several of the kits. We made a zoetrope and experimented with chromatography on one visit. Wannabe scientists young and old will be engaged by the fun, hands-on learning the mess kits and freestanding exhibits at the MESS Hall provide.
The MESS Hall frequently hosts workshops, camps and other special programming, too. Pi Day, Wednesday, March 14, happens to fall during the middle of the inaugural Gulf Coast Science Festival, billed as a celebration of science discovery and the importance of math, engineering and science in our community. Events beginning March 8 include public lectures by astrophysicists and archaeologists, stargazing, night hikes, animal encounters and drone demos. The activities will culminate Saturday, March 17, with an Expo Day, featuring regional exhibitors and educational activities for all ages, in Seville Square.
All of this learning is bound to make you hungry. In Pensacola, there are endless options for enjoying one of the world’s most popular Pi Day activities, eating pizza and, what else, pie.
Although it isn’t unique to Pensacola, Mellow Mushroom is locally owned and one of our family’s favorite spots for pizza. Specialty pizzas like the Kosmic Karma and Holy Shiitake Pie lead the menu, but you can also build your own with the ingredients of your choosing. The calzones, hoagies and salads I’ve tried here have been good, too. The beer selection and large TVs in the bar area make this funky eatery popular with diners of all stripes.
In Perdido Key, Lillian’s has the largest selection of pizza you’ll find. The large, casual restaurant features flavorful pies with ingredients ranging from the traditional to the likes of Gulf Shrimp and Kansas City-style barbecue. The creative combinations come in five different sizes and are available pan-style or thin crust.
Goat Lips Chew and Brewhouse in North Pensacola is a favorite of students and staff at the nearby University of West Florida. Locally brewed craft beer, a diverse menu featuring everything from sandwiches to meatloaf, and an otherwise fun place to hang out with friends sums up Goat Lips. If you visit on Pi Day, try one of the personal-size pizzas and the fudge brownie pie with chocolate drizzle, and enjoy Trivia Night: Invasion of the Geeks, an event that’s part of the Gulf Coast Science Festival.
Another place to wind down Pi Day with a slice of pie is Flounder’s Chowder House on Pensacola Beach, which offers a triple-decker serving of key lime pie. It is humongous. The Fish House’s key lime pie is also a local favorite.
If picking up your pie to go is more your speed, order whole or by the slice at Chrisoula’s Cheesecake Shoppe in Downtown Pensacola. The fresh selections of traditional and specialty flavors are why Chrisoula’s has been a finalist in local media polls for three straight years. North of town, Szotski’s Cheesecakes on 9 Mile Road specializes in mini cheesecakes and offers more than 200 flavors.
Happy Pi Day to all!