Easy as 3.1415926...

Middle school students celebrate international 'Pi Day'

— Pi is an infinite decimal whose numbers never repeat in a pattern, but that hasn't stopped the world from trying to memorize as many of pi's decimal places as possible.

On Wednesday, seventh-graders at Steamboat Springs Middle School joined the international math community in celebrating "Pi Day." Because pi begins with 3.14, March 14 certainly is an appropriate day to celebrate it.

Most people stop reciting pi's digits after 3.14. Not seventh-grader Noah Glaisher.

Standing in front of all his peers Wednesday, Noah recited 354 numbers in sequential order while his classmates looked at each other in amazement. The students eventually started a chant of "Noah, Noah."

The previous middle school record was 189.

"I just memorized the first 40 numbers then I memorized in sets of 10," Noah said. "I memorized the first 140 numbers in the first day and then I kind of slacked off."

Middle school teacher Lisa Lorenz joked that she had a separate score sheet for Noah because the sheets she was using stopped at 150, and she knew Noah had memorized well past that total.

"We all knew that he had that many memorized," said seventh-grader Mary O'Connell, who placed second after reciting 105 numbers. "I kind of knew he was going to win."

Pi is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. Mathematicians have calculated tens of thousands of pi's digits, but it is an infinite decimal.

The middle school also ate pie on Pi Day. The big time Wednesday was 1:59:26 p.m. because the first eight digits of pi are 3.1415926.

"That's when the ball drops," Lorenz said.

Nine seventh-graders qualified for Wednesday's pi finals. In addition to Glaisher and O'Connell were Daniel Moran, Ron Wright, Taylor Loomis, Kyle Rogers, Dani Perry, Robby Davis and Jace Worden.

Wednesday also happened to be Albert Einstein's birthday, so middle school teacher Kerry Kerrigan wore her Einstein shirt and socks in honor of the mathematician. She also allowed the students to hold her Einstein shirt or drape it over their shoulders for good luck.

It must have worked, because each student who participated in the finals recited nearly two dozen numbers correctly.