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Maths day all adds up to Pi - like Grandma used to make it

Eva McKinnon, aged 13 from St. John's College Woodlawn with a pie for Pie Day. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
Eva McKinnon, aged 13 from St. John's College Woodlawn with a pie for Pie Day. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

PIES to celebrate Pi Day. That's what's on the menu for mathematics students at St John's College Woodlawn.

It may seem like an obscure topic, but the Pi Day celebration is steadily multiplying and gaining momentum around the world as an international day to recognise the importance of mathematics.

St John's College Woodlawn mathematics co-ordinator Brad Ryall said Pi Day was a good opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of mathematics in developing students' problem-solving abilities.

"It gives them a set of skills they can solve problems with, and problem solving is the thing that employers and society wants, rather than people who can regurgitate or recite information," he said.

"That used to be the case sort of 20 years ago - if you remembered it you knew it - but now we can find it so easily because all the information's at our fingertips."

Mr Ryall said the focus of teaching had shifted from content learning to problem-solving skills.

Something like 60% of the jobs these kids are going to do haven't even been invented yet, so it's very hard to give them the skills they need for the jobs because we don't even know what jobs they need

Aydin Neighbours, aged 10 from St. John's College Woodlawn with fellow math students and a selection of pies for Pie Day. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
Aydin Neighbours, aged 10 from St. John's College Woodlawn with fellow math students and a selection of pies for Pie Day. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

"Something like 60% of the jobs these kids are going to do haven't even been invented yet, so it's very hard to give them the skills they need for the jobs because we don't even know what jobs they need," he said.

Aydin Neighbour is the youngest student in Mr Ryall's accelerated maths class and said the subject was important because every job required some mathematics.

Kelly Gibney, 14, took out the class Pi prize with his recital from memory of pi's first 50 decimal place figures.

For those whose school maths is a little rusty, pi is the mathematical constant (3.1415...) used to find the area and circumference of a circle.

Seven things you didn't know about pi

  1. Pi Day is held on March 14 because the date 3/14 is the first three digits of pi.
  2. Pi is the most recognized mathematical constant in the world.
  3. In the Star Trek episode Wolf in the Fold, Spock foils the evil computer by commanding it to "compute to last digit the value of pi".
  4. The symbol for pi has been used regularly for the past 250 years.
  5. We can never truly measure the circumference or the area of a circle because we can never truly know the value of pi.
  6. In 2002, a Japanese scientist found 1.24 trillion digits of pi using a powerful computer called the Hitachi SR 8000, breaking all previous records
  7. One of the earliest known records of pi was written by an Egyptian scribe named Ahmes (c1650 BC) on what is now known as the Rhind Papyrus. He was off by less than 1% of the modern approximation of pi.

Topics:  mathematics




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