Pi Wizards Impress in Student Assembly

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Maggie McGaharan inspired by this morning's assembly

Cassandra Ratzlaff, Editor

The world record for the most digits memorized of Pi (3.14…) is held by Chao Lu of China whose memorized 67,890 numbers. But closely after him, ranked around 42nd in the entire world, is ODA’s very own Sierra VanSuch 16′ whose memorized about 2109 numbers.

Even though Mrs. Gaffney, Math Department Head, knew Sierra was a Pi savant, she welcomed all to participate in a competition to memorize as many numbers as possible.  The top memorizers were awarded movie gift cards for the digits they memorized.

The final placements are as follows:

1st- Sierra VanSuch (500+)

2nd- Kevin Moody (198)

3rd- Marcus Buffet (146)

4th- Daniel Pivonka (142)

5th- Zach Lang (33)

6th- Chris Poole (30)

It was not a surprise that Sierra conquered the competition. Notorious for reciting Pi at a supersonic speed (as seen in the video), Sierra asked Mrs. Gaffney if she could “say it fast.” Mrs. Gaffney and Mr. Singer only had a list of the first 500 digits of Pi and Sierra surpassed the list, proceeding on to over 500. But how does one memorize so many digits?

In assembly, she explained that she began memorizing Pi in the fourth grade at The Goldie Feldman Academy, where each student studied the language. Each year, Sierra added on to her list a month before Pi Day; taking around four numbers that have a pattern  in a group and memorizing them one group after the next.

She was not the only one to take this initiative; Marcus, Daniel, and Kevin joined her. But because Sierra had almost her entire life preparing for the competition, she had a clear lead. The others knew they were going to compete only a few days before the event. Marcus and Daniel chose to enter the competition this Tuesday.

Marcus said that he memorized 200 one day and 100 another. That’s 300. According to the markings above, Marcus only recited 146. Surely the pressure is over the roof and it’s hard to stay calm while reciting hundreds of memorized digits. Daniel had memorized 200 digits and Kevin had memorized 350.

Most memorizers of Pi noted that they used colors, sounds, and patterns to memorize such great lengths. Mrs. Gaffney explained that another way to memorize the numbers was to take a journey. As an example, she chose her mother’s house, where the house number began with the number 3, there were 14 letters in the mail, 159 tiles inside, and so on.

In class, while discussing the competition, many admitted that they could hear the rhythm each of the contestants used. Mrs. Gaffney said that “Daniel’s sounded choppy and Marcus’ and Kevin’s had more of a flow.” Despite the method used, they still triumphed.

Interestingly, Mrs. Gaffney revealed that Marcus, Daniel, and Kevin all hesitated at the same number; one where a pattern ended. But after an epiphany, and a good guess-made by Marcus- they continued on down the list until they couldn’t any longer.

After the competition came to end, Mrs. Gaffney dismissed the assembly with a teacher’s reminder,  “An amazing thing the brain,” she said, “now go use them. Have a great day!”

Thanks for Pi Day, Math Department. That was cool.