Let Them Eat Pi

by Chloe Kiparsky

If you happened by Ouray School March 14th, you heard students’ joyous laughter, smelled the sweet scents of pies, and saw shaving cream flying through the air. Each year, Pi Day turns Ouray School into a laugh-filled, math-excited school.

Pi (3.14159…), the constant that represents the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of every circle, is a number worth celebrating. “Pi is fascinating,” explained middle school math teacher Ms. Coyer, “in that you can take any circle of any size, and if you accurately measure both the circumference and the diameter you will have the same ratio value – which is pi.” Ms. Coyer and high school STEM teachers Ms. Lakin and Mr. Chiang all described pi with the same loving enthusiasm. Pi Day falls on March 14th (3/14), which is the first three digits of pi, and it’s “a chance to have a little bit of a party that focuses on our nerdier side and celebrates mathematics,” said Mr. Chiang. 

Students, on the other hand, will admit to you that they love Pi Day because of the (you guessed it) pie! Hordes of students bring homemade pies to share, causing the sweet aroma of fruits and sugar to waft through the halls. 

Unfailingly, too, Ms. Lakin bakes pies to share with her classes. This year, she spent seven hours lovingly preparing six scrumptious pies. “I just like baking pie,” she said, “and third quarter is a period where we’re all kind of struggling to make it through and be happy, so I think Pi Day falls on a really great time to do something nice and share it with my students.” Senior Nate Kissingford appreciated her efforts: “Lakin’s pie is incredible!”

In Mr. Chiang’s Geometry class, there were festivities galore, starting with a pi reciting contest: to how many digits could students define pi? Then there was the pi-ku contest, a riff on haiku, a traditional three-line Japanese poetry style with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and then back to 5 in the third. A pi-ku follows the 3, 1, 4 format which corresponds to pi’s first 3 digits. 

Finally, the high school - accompanied by Ms. Coyer’s 5th graders - moved outside. “Hold hands in a big circle, everyone!” was the first instruction once we reached the parking lot. Our 50-foot diameter circle was going to be the victim of a pi calculation. Stretching a giant tape measure across and around the circle, Ms. Coyer determined that pi is now equal to 2.8 (all right, maybe our circle was a little wonky)!

Then it was time for the much anticipated pi(e) in the face event. By being good math students, kids had won tickets to pi(e) teachers in the face with tins full of shaving cream. Gleeful shrieks erupted as teachers were covered in white foam. Students snapped selfies, drew shaving cream mustaches, and grinned their faces off. 

“It’s special that we can do things like this in Ouray,” said Ms. Coyer.