In honor of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, several hundred students, parents and educators in the Cheektowaga Central School District spent Saturday morning devouring all things pi. Some called it Super Pi Day because the date represents the first five digits of the infinite measurement – 3.1415.
The local event was free but included a fundraiser for Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Bald for Bucks Campaign, when children threw 50-cent pies at their favorite teachers and administrators.
A cardboard stand with two cut-outs for volunteers’ heads stood on a tarp. Volunteers anxiously paced, waiting for children to line up to take their aim with small paper plates full of whipped cream.
Youngsters used several methods of pie delivery. The one-handed toss. The two-handed throw to hit both victims at once. Others skipped aiming altogether and walked up to a volunteer, placed the plate atop his or her head and smeared the whipped cream from forehead to chin.
Seventh-grade math teacher Marissa Baker offered to take pies to the face to show her enthusiasm about the subject.
“This is such a celebration,” she said. “It’s just to show the kids we’re excited about math.”
Taylor D’Amico, 13, came to school on a Saturday for a simple reason.
“I love math,” she said, admitting the promise of hitting her favorite instructor, seventh-grade social studies teacher Matt Schirmer, was a bonus.
Madalyn Lucas, 11, said it felt good to wallop middle school Assistant Principal Micah Hanford, teasing that it was to “get him back for the homework.”
More than 20 rooms of the middle and high schools were filled with food and fun. Some students hovered around a banquet table in a hallway, searching for their dates of birth within the first 10,000 digits of pi, while others participated in Mathlete athletic games, a scavenger hunt, Math Plinko, face painting, puzzles and arts and crafts.
Snacks included sandwich “Pis,” which consisted of two slices of white bread filled with apples or s’mores fixings baked in pie irons over a grill, and pizza “Pi.”
The event’s headliner was “Mathemagician” Arthur Benjamin, who performed two shows. The math professor and magician demonstrated how he performs calculations quicker than a calculator.
To prove his act wasn’t too rehearsed, he asked for volunteers from the audience to yell out four different numbers, 7, 9, 4 and 5. He turned this into a four-digit number and squared it in a matter of seconds to get 63,123,025.
He then told the audience he could square a five-digit number in his head, but verification of his answer would be difficult.
“I can, but, unfortunately, some calculators cannot,” he said.
Superintendent Dennis Kane said the event was part of the district’s “The Year of Math” celebration. Over the past few years, the district also has held yearlong celebrations for other topics, such as science and literacy. Kane said the event was a way to get families together on a Saturday to celebrate a specific content area.
“It combines what kids learn to make things fun,” he said. Gerald Orgek, math department chairman at the high school, brought the idea full circle as a way to engage students and their parents in mathematical activities.
“The biggest hope is to get families out to enjoy time with their kids,” he said.