cgefre's picture

Gotta Get Down on Pi Day

So yesterday was every mathematician's favorite date: March 14th. To all my fellow non-math majors out there who might be confused as to the significance of this date, March 14th can be written as 3/14. This looks a lot like 3.14, which is about as many digits of Pi that most people remember. And if there's one thing that the students at Boone Hall hold close to their hearts, it's Pi. What better way to celebrate everyone's favorite irrational constant than to pig out on a food that's just a letter away?

That's right--C of I's Math Club celebrated its annual Pi Day festivities with pie. Lots and lots of pie. Lots and lots of Pi too, of course. Getting anywhere within 20 yards of Boone Hall would make you much more likely to see a student wearing a pi symbol on their t-shirt than anywhere else, and actually going inside the math and science building would expose you to even more pi related activities.

I didn't have the pleasure of participating in last year's Pi Day, partly because I ironically had a lab class for physiology on the other side of campus, but also because I didn't realize it was actually Pi Day until it was too late. This year I had more of a connection to the festivities, as the day was just getting into full swing (or perhaps full rotation?) as I arrived for my English class. Just walking into Boone Hall was enough to get me into the spirit of the day, as I was greeted by several math students in tie dyed pi t-shirts gathered at the study table, dutifully crafting a "Pi chain" out of bits of construction paper, handing out pi themed buttons and a chance to add to the chain for a small donation to the department. To my left, a few other students had just printed off a giant banner--Pi to a million decimal places. That's one million single digits, and even in the small font they were printed, the banner stretched from one end of the hallway to nearly the other side. To my right, a professor I hadn't met was telling anyone who would listen about the glory of the googol (or 10 to the hundreth power).

And of course there was pie, and lots of it. For a single dollar, students could chow down on a slice of any pie they wanted, and no flavor was forgotten. Apple pie, pecan pie, chocolate pie, rubarb pie...and to top it all off, they even had carrot cake for all the whiners who weren't into the pi day spirit. I didn't have any money on me at the time of my English class, but it turned out that it didn't matter--Dr. Spencer, in all his infinite coolness, not only let our ENG-280 class out half an hour early to partake in the fun of Pi day, he bought everyone in the class a slice of pie to boot. (English students can appreciate Pi too, you know!)

After I got out of class, other math students outside of Boone had just begun a large scale cookout--burgers, hot dogs, chips, soda, and, of course, more pie. A crowd of students in the spirit of Pi Day had come out to support the math club in their own way--most notably my friend Allison, who had made a pie-themed hat out of cottonballs and a couple of pie tins.

And the barbeque wasn't even the main event. No, the most publicized event for Pi Day was the famed "Pie a Prof," in which students made donations to the department to see their favorite math or science professor take a full pie straight to the face. Various professors had money jars lined up at the Boone Table for donations, and the staff member with the most money in their jar by 2:30 p.m. would get to enjoy a whipped cream facial. The staff member with the least donations wouldn't be free from a crusty fate, however--they, too, would get pied. And come on, who doesn't want to see two professors get food stuffs to the dome after all the work they've assigned us through the year?

This year's (un)lucky winners were Dr. Chris "Bobby" Saunders, professor of chemistry, and Alan Price, our beloved systems administrator. I think Delta Tau Delta can take responsibility for Dr. Saunders...he's our fraternity's faculty advisor, and as such, we felt obligated to make sure he enjoyed as much pie as possible. A large scale Facebook campaign ensued, in which both Delt actives and alumni threw down some serious coin to ensure we could get video of our favorite chemistry prof getting pied. Said video can be found here!

Be honest, readers: how many slices of pie did you devour yesterday? (If it was 3.14 on the nose, you win at life.)

-Clayton Gefre

Clayton is a sophomore creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.