Pi Challenge – By Olivia Taitt

           In high school, I was one of those students who prided themselves on knowing the most digits of the geometric coefficient known as pi. I was always ready for a competition. If there was an extra credit or any other incentive to learn more digits, I was there ready to recite. Last year, I did LDP’s Pi Challenge and recited 125 digits, good enough for second place behind Connor’s 185. Thanks to that excitement, I took charge of the event this year.

           We held the Pi Challenge, sponsored by Pagliai’s Pizza, on March 24th. My ultimate goal for the event: spread the word. I wanted this to become widespread throughout the university as well as attract bright young middle school and high school students in the community. I enlisted Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor’s Society, to help plan and advertise the event. The advertising went great. Through Facebook events, email, advertising cards, and help from Tau Beta Pi and LDP member Duane Lickteig, we brought in more people than ever before. In fact, we spread the word so well that an hour before competition, I had to buy seven more pizzas for an unanticipated number of guests-and we had no leftovers.

         Where advertising flourished, however, the planning did not. Last year, we had a speaker who recited 1,000 digits of Pi live at the event. When I found out he was not returning this year, I did not have time to secure another speaker, nor did I have a set backup plan. I came up with a couple of other last minute ideas, but they did not work out in the short time frame. This setback left me with a fairly short itinerary, but I learned my lesson for future planning.

         The competition this year was great. We had four middle school-aged students participate, and Miss Michelle, 12 years old, earned second place with 150 digits. Connor defended his title with 185 digits, and I placed third with 113.

         I would like to thank Tau Beta Pi for the help on this event, Pagliai’s for sponsoring with free pizzas and prizes, and Duane and Dr. Mingqing Xiao for bringing in so many young math students. I would say this event was a success, and I cannot wait to see what improvements we make for next year.