TAMPA – Do the math.
The middle school students at Corbett Prep are doing just that, as they look forward to Pi Day.
Everyone obviously knows that pi, a Greek letter, stands for 3.1416, or the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. But did you know that pi extends far past 3.1416? Actually that isn’t even the exact number. It’s actually 3.1415, but rounded off it’s 3.1416. Pi is also a number with no ending. For reasons that are way too complicated to explain, the number extends on forever – it has been calculated into the millions with no finite ending.
Math teacher John Scott has made a festival of pi, not pie, but pie definitely is a part of the festival.
“Pi Day is a celebration of pi,” said eighth-grader Brendenn Flynn. “Everything is about circles. We get to go to different stations and they all have a pi theme. There’s even a pie station where we get to eat pies that are circular.”
Needless to say the event was held on March 14, the day before Spring Break.
Seventh-grader Marcos Arias is the master of pi. He won the school award last year for extending pi to more than 300 numbers, then topped the Corbett record of 419, by reciting 500 digits from memory this year. The world record, by the way, was set by someone reciting more than 3 million numbers.
“I want the school record,” Marcos said before his school record breaking attempt. “I know it’s the circumference of a circle, I just need to memorize how far I can make it work.”
Marcos said he had a way to remember how to take pi to 500 numbers.
“I just divide the number by tens and try to memorize from there.” Marcos said. “It’s hard but I can do it.”
So why is it important to know pi? Scott comes up with different reasons which were incorporated into the festival. There were booths that were about a day without pi – a day without circles – as well as a pie eating contest. One student favorite was a station where they got to toss whipped cream pies at other math teachers.
Marcos summed everything up perfectly.
“Think about it,” he said. “Would you like it if everyone had a square head?”
Sixth-grader Olivia Madrid said she can make it past 10 numbers but said she is getting numbers stuck in her head as she prepared for Pi Day.
“It’s hard to explain what it is all about, but circles are important and the numbers start to click,” Olivia said. “It goes on forever.”
Olivia wants to major in English, she said. She has an aptitude for math but said she wants to write after she gets out of college. Marcos and Brendenn are numbers guys, but Marcos said he loves to read and write poetry and would like to take that up some day.