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A slice of academic life

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Wilmot fifth-graders find Pi Day educational — and delicious

By Deb Hurley Brobst

Pi Day was anything but half-baked for the fifth-graders at Wilmot Elementary School on Friday.

That’s pi like the number, not pie like the food.

However, the students in Kym Shaffner’s class ate pie to celebrate pi. In fact, they ate a lot of pie, plus they played pi games, wrote pi poetry and read pi books.

For the past 26 years, the unofficial Pi Day holiday has been celebrated in schools and colleges around the country. It’s always on March 14 — or 3.14, the first digits of the number. Evergreen schools have embraced the day over the years, some with pi recitation competitions and others eating round foods.

Circles are important for Pi Day because of the significance of pi. If you haven’t been in a geometry class lately, pi is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. It’s roughly the fraction 22/7, and the order of the digits after the decimal point never repeats.

In fact, in 2009 a scientist set a world record for calculating pi to 2.7 trillion digits, and the number sequence never repeated.

To compound the day’s significance, March 14 also is the birthday of noted scientist Albert Einstein.

The Wilmot fifth-graders in both Shaffner’s and Kit Snyder’s clsses sang a pi song — to “American Pie,” of course — and used a computer program to find out where the digits of their birthdays fell within the sequence of pi.

Students were enthusiastic about their pi celebration, probably even more so because they were also celebrating the end of their annual TCAP standardized testing. Many partook in several pieces of pie — from peach and apple to chocolate cream and banana cream — and students had impromptu pie-eating contests using no utensils.

Next year will be huge for Pi Day because it will fall on March 14, 2015, or 3.1415, the first digits of pi. For those who are really crazy about the number, when the clock strikes 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m. on the day next year, the time and date will display nine digits of pi after the decimal point: 3.141592653.

Some of the fifth-graders in Shaffner’s class were familiar with Pi Day celebrations, having participated in previous years. For others, this was a first:

Fifth-grader Laila Vienneau said it was her first Pi Day celebration, and she called the event “yummy.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.