It's easy as pi, 3.14, but one false move and they're done for. Fifteen teams of SUNY mathematicians competed in Dods Hall at SUNY Fredonia. Only one team walked away with the coveted Pi Cup.
'Pi' - the famous irrational number - is a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter. When a circle's diameter is one, the circumference is roughly 3.14. In honor of this mathematical constant, members of Dr. Keary Howard's graduate education class set up an evening's worth of events which were loosely related to math.
The officials wore orange and walked around the gym officiating the events. In the first event, teams rolled four dice to get random numbers. They had to use those numbers to form equations which equaled the 3, 1, 4, 1, 5, 9, and so on. Zach Teetsel from the Pi-napples asked one of the officials, "what if we get all ones? If we get four 1s it's impossible to make some of these integers." The judge responded, saying that probably wasn't going to happen. The Pi-napples rolled. The dice landed on 2, 2, 3 and 6. The team speedily went to work crunching numbers and making equations.
OBSERVER Photo by Thomas Schwartz
The Integrals were the winners of the Pi Cup. Pictured from right to left are: Paula Culhane, Alexia Mickles, Tyler George, Kim Farr, Lauren Murphy, Melissa Cuminski and the event organizer, Dr. Keary Howard
SUNY Fredonia has been celebrating Pi Day with events since 2002. This year's theme was SurPiVer, and last year's theme was American PiDol but according to event coordinator Howard, they are not all based off of TV shows. Palm trees and lei's were the decorations and costumes as teams tried to impress the judges to not eliminated. After the first round, teams were voted out including last year's winners, The Key Lime Pi's. Michelle Dynarski joked, "We were too much of a threat."
The second event was a mix between trivia and speed eating. The remaining teams started with 20 saltine crackers and for each trivia questions they answered correctly they took one cracker out of the bag. Each team then raced to eat all their crackers.
Eight teams were left for the event which involved memorization and sensory deprivation. One member from each team was blindfolded and sent into "the boneyard" while the rest of the team shouted them to them to pick up numbers. Each team was trying to collect the numbers in pi, in order.
As most of the contestants were already eliminated at this point, they hung around and ate pi themed food like chocolate covered pretzels in the shape of the Greek letter pi, apple, pumpkin and chocolate pie and cupcakes with the Pi symbol frosted on. At the table, math lecturer Kim Conti was asked how you would go about finding the area of a pie. She responded, "Since a pie is a three dimensional object, you would have to find the volume of it and we'll probably just have to estimate; that's what we always do with pi. The only one who doesn't have to estimate is God."
The remaining three teams were faced with the most difficult task yet. The Awesometotes, The Integrals and Unde-pi-ded stepped up to reach a pi symbol with a made grabber from across 15 feet of plywood that was off limits. The parts to make the grabber were earned, one by one by answering questions. In the final moments before the first pi sign was snagged each of the three teams had a tool that stretched almost all the way across but it was The Integrals by a inch.
Howard said, "We spent a lot of time organizing this. These are the types of things that would be good for them to know how to do as educators."
Because of spring break the events took place on Thursday instead of today (3.14).