By Zyra De Los Reyes, Staff Writer
The University of Missouri–St. Louis Math Club hosted its annual Pi Day celebration in the Pilot House of the Millennium Student Center last Tuesday. Students gathered to indulge in free snacks and enjoy a fun mathematical holiday by participating in pi-themed activities.
The mathematical constant pi is used to compute areas of circles and other applications and is becoming more frequently celebrated. Each year across the nation, Pi Day is observed on March 14 since it coincides with the first three digits of pi, which are 3.14. The occasion raises awareness of the importance and relevance of math in everyday life.
At noon, a crowd of students gathered to take part in the various concurrent activities that the UMSL Math Club prepared. Pizzas, pies, cookies, brownies, and refreshments were provided for the participants, as well as t-shirts and the opportunity to sign up for the club.
Some students took part in solving the Buffon Needle Problem where each individual dropped a handful of toothpicks onto a lined sheet of paper and determined the probability of the needle crossing one of the lines on the page. Students quickly observed that the result is that the probability is directly related to the value of pi.
Other students joined the art contest where each individual was provided a piece of paper that contained the pi symbol template. The task was to show creativity through art, while others learned how to approximate pi using a ruler or a compass.
The pi recitation was the main event. Students attempted to recall and recite as many post-decimal digits of pi as they could. Noreen Heyari, senior, biology, won second place by enumerating 230 digits, and Omar Soufian Ismail, junior, computer science, won first place by reciting 750 digits.
“What interested me in pi recital is that I like to do a complex memorization, which challenges my brain further, and I like numbers. The way I memorize the pi numbers is by breaking them into two digits in historical events. Example, 95, the year I was born, 13, the year I graduated from high school, and so on. I look forward every year for this event because it gives me an opportunity to share my passion with others,” said Ismail.
The number of students was larger than one would expect for a math event, with friendly and approachable Math Club members gladly assisting curious students as they passed.
“I had fun at the Pi Day event. The club members were very helpful and willing to answer my questions about anything math-related,” said Clarissa Reel, junior, sociology.
Dr. David Covert, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and UMSL Math Club Advisor, organized this event along with the club’s president, Ian Edwards, junior, computer science, and treasurer Hilmo Malkic, sophomore, biochemistry.
“Between organizing the food, room, reservations, and hanging fliers, the event was a great success,” said Covert.
To learn more about Pi Day and for more information on the UMSL Math Club, visit www.cs.umsl.edu.