Putting the ‘pie’ in Pi Day

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BYU Mathematics is getting ready for its biggest party of the year, which will include a human orbitron, a pi recitation contest, and of course, lots and lots of pie.

Students from all majors are invited to the March 14 event in celebration of Pi Day, the holiday that honors the mathematical constant 3.14. The festivities will begin in Brigham Square at noon and end with a countdown to 1:59.26 p.m., when the date will match the first eight digits of Pi.
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Morgan Matthews, the events coordinator for the math department, is optimistic that this year will build on the tradition in a positive way.

“Every year, the event keeps getting bigger and better,” Matthews said. She is looking forward to a few particular events herself.

“My favorites are Pi the Professor, (the) Pi eating contest and a brand new one — the human orbitron,” Matthews said.

A human orbitron is like a giant gyroscope in which a user gets strapped into the middle and spins in all kinds of directions. The event sponsor, Qualtrics, is funding part of the fee to bring the device in from a party company in Idaho.

Jennifer Mahoney, mathematics department operations director, explained how the Pi eating and throwing contests will be organized.

“Pi eating contests will happen (every) three minutes with eight contestants each time,” Mahoney said. “Pi the Professor will happen every 10 minutes. The winner of every fourth Pi eating contest will be the lucky winner who gets to pie the professor or TA.”

Mahoney pointed out that Pi Day is celebrated in many places around the world, and she described why the math department is working hard to bring the party to BYU.

“(We want to) celebrate Pi and to put on a fun activity for the BYU campus and community,” Mahoney said. “(We want) to show that math can be fun.”

Besides pie, there will also be donuts, Pi Day T-shirts and water bottles distributed or given out as prizes. This year’s Pi Day shirts are already available for $5 in the math lab.

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