Geeky Fun, Great Pi(e)

By Jim Garringer Published: Mar 21, 2012

It is safe to say not everyone understands the significance of the mathematical constant Pi, which is symbolized by the sign π and starts with the numbers 3.14159265 before continuing into infinity. Even fewer might mathematicians actually celebrate it each March 14. And yet they do.

During Taylor’s celebration of Pi Day, you couldn’t find any pocket protectors, but there was an assortment of freshly baked pies by Taylor math faculty members and their spouses, mathematical games, and a whimsical video featuring Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land.

The event was held in the lower level of the Zondervan Library by Taylor’s Math Club. “It is something the Math Club tries to put on and it's open to the whole campus,” said math club president Aaron Milauskas, newly-elected student body president and a junior math education major from Batavia, Ill. “Most math majors and people who like math grew up celebrating Pi Day with pizza parties and pie parties. They grew up enjoying it – it is a strange math mind that enjoys it and looks forward to this kind of event.”

And Milauskas means “strange” in the best possible way. The Taylor Math Club has lots of fun events throughout the year that don’t always include discussions of, say, which number is better: Pi or e, another number which starts with 2.718281828... The club’s social life includes events like Pick a Geek – a mathematical equivalent to the campus wide Pick a Date night. During Pick a Geek, math majors dress in, well, geeky clothes and take their respective dates for a fun night of bowling, a movie or maybe even a spirited discussion of the Bayes Formula.

The club also hosts progressive dinners that send Taylor’s 40 or so math majors to their professors’ homes and fall and spring banquets. According to math professor Dr. Matt DeLong, the added contact leads to better relationships and communication between students and professors – something that is vital as students advance through Taylor’s math program.

But Pi Day is something for the whole campus. “We’ve had Pi Day for several years,” said DeLong. “Sometimes there is a video or reenactment of the Great Pi Debate. We had a guy who memorized the first 300 digits of Pi, which is not so unusual.”

Say what? “He had a rap,” continued DeLong. “Our students are a pretty social group and that comes from the way we do our courses. We really encourage them to collaborate in the classroom.”