CANONSBURG – Rebekah Quinlan sat at the front of the classroom and recited exactly 333 digits of pi as efficiently as any computer could.
Starting at 3.14, the Canon-McMillan High School senior rattled off each number, pausing only for a second while hiccuping over 587 006. When the numbers ran out, she concluded, “that’s all” to a silent room.
Needless to say, her classmates were impressed. In honor of Pi Day – celebrated every March 14 – students in Melissa Bellino’s math classes get the chance to show off their knowledge of pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
Students brought in baked goods and created pi-themed artwork or “whatever they want to do to be creative with pi to show their non-math side,” Bellino said.
A two-tiered cake had “be irrational” written in red icing. Homemade cupcakes, cookies and, of course, pie were adorned with the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet.
“It’s sacrilegious to not have pie on Pi Day,” JohnPaul Gaston said while filling his plate with goodies.
“The kids do a fabulous job,” said Bellino, who has been organizing Pi Day activities in her geometry, statistics and algebra classes for years.
Bellino said Quinlan set a new record in class Friday. Quinlan has been memorizing the digits of pi since she was in sixth grade. It started as a fun game for her and a friend, but she started taking it more seriously as the annual Pi Day approached at school.
“I usually kind of slack off and then I add more until it’s almost Pi Day,” Quinlan said.
She uses a smartphone application called “Learn Pi” and memorized about 25 digits Wednesday and Thursday alone. She admitted she is “not into math at all” and hopes to study English in college, but she has a knack for memorizing numbers, dates and even the outfit she was wearing on June 6, 2012, or any other seemingly random date.
While Quinlan graduates this year, she said she might continue memorizing pi because the unique date 3/14/15 will mark perhaps the largest Pi Day celebration yet.