RIPLEY - Ripley Central School hosted its annual Math Week celebration Friday. Held annually, it is centered around the week in March that falls around "Pi Day," on March 14. This date shares the first three digits of pi, the irrational number, 3.14. It's also equivalent to the circumference of a circle with the diameter of one inch, and a keystone of geometry.
First set into action five years ago by Ripley math teacher Lisa Stonefoot, this event is said to be as popular as Spirit Week. Sophomore Destiny Safford commented, "Pi times Math Week equals awesome, squared!"
Throughout the week, students were challenged with everyday and unusual situations which they had to solve using various math skills. Students planned breakfast and lunch menus with the day's mathematical theme. A new theme this year was Fraction Day, and students were served two bagel halves for breakfast, an eighth of a pizza, apple slices and mixed vegetables. Some of the younger students counted to determine which fractional part of the veggies were beans. Some of the menu items on other days were selected to teach concepts of similarity to the younger children or help demonstrate inverse properties, mathematical opposites.
Stonefoot said of the menu planning, "The students creating the menus were mindful, not only of the math theme for the day, but also the nutritional requirements of the meals."
Students were not only encouraged to celebrate by wearing creative costumes representing each day's theme and class colors, but also to help others. Stonefoot said, "The high school helpers do a wonderful job with the younger students" and numerous activities were designed to foster this kind of learning.
Sierra Tessmer, a junior, commented, "I love working with the little kids, and Math Week allows us to assist them in learning math. It's like icing on the pi cookie!"
OBSERVER Photos by Shirley Pulawski
(Left) Students were challenged to memorize and recite as many decimal places of the number pi as possible while competing against other students. (Right) Tangrams puzzle competitions challenged students with geometrical shapes as each grade representative competed to complete the five tangrams first.
The week of math-themed activities and events culminated with a series of competitions between the sixth through 12th graders, the fourth annual Battle of the Classes. Some of the competitions pitted individuals from each class against each other, while others involved teamwork. The competitions included counting change, guessing the price of common items and learning about probability by playing Plinko, a game developed for television show, "The Price is Right."
Tangrams are puzzles using seven geometric shapes which can form other shapes, but each must be placed precisely to fill in the outline of the new shape. This challenge combined geometry with visualization and creative thinking while their classmates raucously cheered the players from the bleachers.
In a game designed to help visualize a parabolic path of motion, students paired up and competed in a bowling contest, but with a twist. The student rolling the ball was blindfolded, but guided by another student.
The arts were also represented among the sciences in a competition to create visualizations of pi by employing the technique of pointillism, in which form and shape are created using only dots and no lines. Winners were judged on creativity and execution.
Several other games and events were designed by both teachers and students, including some lofty endeavors. Students Trevor Enterline, Ian Petroff, and Cody Rater worked together to design and build a wind chamber, in which students competed to catch paper circles. About building the tunnel, Rater said "It took about 15 hours with several people working on it," but added "It was a labor of love."
Another very challenging competition was the memorization round. Because pi is an irrational number, its decimal places are never ending and never repeat since the fraction cannot be completely calculated. This makes memorizing a long string of numbers very challenging, but each participant, regardless of their grade, dazzled their cheering peers by reciting it correctly to many, many decimal places.
Of the final event, "Appetite," Stonefoot said, "It isn't really related to math, but the kids just love it." In this game, each player is given a deep dish pie plate filled with whipped cream and five cookies. Without using any hands, the students have to find all five cookies. This fun and messy event is won when the first player has eaten all five cookies.
"It's always a close competition that brings the crowd to their feet," she said. This event usually determines which class wins the coveted Pi Day Trophy.
Stonefoot beamed with pride and encouragement as she and others led enthusiastic students through the games. "The class colors are so much fun to see. The students really enjoy dressing up and showing their class spirit, and including the elementary students was a wonderful way to bring a Pre-K through 12th grade school together."
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