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National Pi Day celebrated March 14

By Staff | Mar 18, 2014

Two 6th grade math classes from Myers Elementary School in Muncy held a contest for National Pi Day on Friday afternoon to see who could become the "Biggest Memorizer." Standing between teachers Amy Colonie and Robert Wallis are the winners: (left to right) Jasmine Schmitt, 1st place with 75 digits; Nikaya DeWald, 2nd placed with 71 digits; and Aleaha Bigelow, 3rd place with 63 digits.

MUNCY – Every year Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 around the world, especially in the schools. Pi (the Greek letter “?”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant. It is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter which is approximately 3.14159.

Rob Wallis, 6th grade teacher at Myers Elementary in Muncy said that Pi is infinite.

Teachers and students at both Hughesville and Muncy participated in the event by holding challenge contests for the students to see how many numbers could be memorized.

Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. However, sixth grade Muncy student, Nikaya DeWald who memorized 71 digits said she looked for similar patterns of numbers.

While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.

Advanced math students at Hughesville High School celebrated National Pi Day by creating posters constructed from letters of their favorite teachers' names and rearranging them with formulas from at least 4 different mathematic disciplines.

At Hughesville High School students in Molly Fuller’s advanced math class were assigned to choose a teacher whose name contains at least four letters. Then they were to construct the letters of the name using symbols or rearranged formulas from at least 4 mathematic disciplines such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry or calculus. Some formulas could overlap. Posters were then created with the information explained in rubric form.

Rob Wallis at Muncy said that his students have been working really hard this year to gear up for the PSSA’s, and this was something fun for them to do. “They got to relax and have fun with it,” he said. Aleaha Bigelow, one of the contest winners, said she really enjoyed the assignment and she memorized 63 digits.

Mrs. Amy Colonie, also a 6th grade math teacher at Myers, called the assignment “The Biggest Memorizer Challenger.” She said they also had to draw a picture of a “mascot” that looked like the Pi symbol. “The kids had a website that they could go to for practice,” she added. Overall winner, Jasmine Schmitt who memorized 75 digits, said she did it sections.

The two 6th grade math classes at Muncy have been celebrating Pi Day for the last six years when it was declared a national day in March 9, 2009 in the House of Representatives. The resolution was referred to the Committee on Science and Technology since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits of ? in the decimal form.

The earliest known official or large-scale celebration of Pi Day was organized by Larry Shaw in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where Shaw worked as a physicist with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, then consuming fruit pies. To this day the facility still celebrates Pi Day.

Fuller said that the activity really helps the students at Hughesville with their PSSA’s because “it helps them identify concepts and techniques from different areas of math and apply them to solving non-routing and multi-step problems.” The kids culminated the activity on Friday by eating pies they brought to class to share.

Pi Day has been observed in many ways, including eating pies, throwing pies and discussing the significance of the number ?.