Students file into the Terry Center, quickly sitting at the round tables that fill the room, eagerly wondering about the topic of the impending presentation. Each period of the day hosts a unique presentation, which never fails to surprise and entice the audience.
On March 18th, students and faculty members alike celebrated arguably the most important mathematical day of the year, Pi Day, through presentations on real-world applications of math and science.
Emphasizing the importance of high school students celebrating Pi Day, Mrs. Gerber explained, “We get pigeonholed in just viewing math as a set of problems that… have no meaning… Pi Day gives us the opportunity to see math from lots of different angles.” She also stressed the benefits of “getting students involved in presentations,” because it allows them “to share [their] passion for mathematics.”
Pi Day at Jesuit has grown exponentially in recent years. Mr. Ortiz ’08 recalled Pi Day from his time as a student at Jesuit as consisting of “circle-drawing contests, saying the digits of pi.” In fact, his only recollection of an actual presentation was “a video of a cowboy who always when flipping a coin would land on heads,” which exhibits just how far Pi Day celebrations have come within the past decade.
As a testament to Mrs. Gerber encouraging student involvement, members of Mu Alpha Theta, Jesuit’s premier math organization, now largely coordinate and run the Pi Day festivities, hoping to make the day as entertaining and engaging as possible.
For the past two years, because of increased student initiative, Pi Day has become more interactive, with students now sitting at tables instead of in rows, allowing for more audience participation and discussion. Presentations now allow students to contribute by playing games and making models.
The day kicked off with a presentation from the Robotics team on the basic math involved in creating and programming a robot, a presentation that even included a widely popular game of Kahoot. Understanding that many students don’t know what robotics does in the lab and the amount of work put into their robots, Will Curran ‘17, the MC of the 1st period presentation, recognized Pi Day as a “fantastic opportunity to show everyone a little bit of what we do to students that are interested in math and science.”
The rest of the day was filled with presentations by many of Jesuit’s most prominent mathematical minds. Senior Alonso Espinosa-Dominguez, Mr. Peter Billingham, and even Mr. Paul Kolker introduced some of their favorite mathematical concepts, their demonstrations connecting to both their own personal experiences and widespread real-world applications.
Even Grant Uy ’14 and Eric Furton ’14, both of whom attend the University of Texas at Austin currently, informed students (in a very simplified manner) on the proper technique for bench press through physics. After watching the presentation, Nick Pontikes ’17 recounted, “The presentation was interesting because I was able to see the concepts I’m learning in physics be applied to real life,” echoing the true purpose of Pi Day demonstrations.
With Pi Day presentations constantly increasing in creativity and support, who knows what next year’s celebrations have in store!