The California STEM Institute for Innovation & Improvement (CSI3), an institute within the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE) at California State University, Dominguez Hills, celebrated the “Ultimate Pi Day” at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park this past Saturday by hosting its inaugural Pi Day Olympics.
Celebrated every March 14, Pi Day was especially significant in 2015 because the date combined with a particular hour, minute and second —3.14.15, 9:26:53 a.m. — correlated to the first 10 digits of the most infamous mathematical constant, known as pi (π).
“CSUDH CSI3 faculty, staff, and teacher candidates treated the kids to a wonderful STEM experience through the Pi Day Olympics,” CSI3 and CISE director Kamal Hamdan said, adding that it was much more than a learning day. “It was community engagement at its best. I felt the pride to be part of something special that CSUDH is doing at schools within its communities. We were all proud to be representing CSUDH.
CSI3 kicked off its Pi Day Olympics at that exact time, starting with the Pi Memorization Contest, which tested the talents of students from Gage and also Leimert Park’s Audubon Middle School to see how many digits of pi they could recite.
The day included the crowning of a king and a queen of Pi Day Olympics, plus various booths to engage in Pi Day activities, such as Pi Scramble, Pin the Pi on the Unit Circle, Making Pi Day Bracelets, a Pi-ñata, a Pi Eating Contest, and a booth for students to derive the origins of pi.
Gage is the location of one of CSI3’s STEM Lab Schools, where teacher candidates lead math and science classes on weekends throughout the school year and four weeks in the summer to gain experience teaching. The prospective teachers are encouraged to try new approaches to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities, such as putting on the Pi Day event.
Among those in attendance were the CSI3 Lab School team; teacher candidates from CSUDH’s Transition to Teaching Online (TTTO) and STEM Teachers in Advanced Residency (STAR) programs. Volunteers from the Noyce Scholars Program (NSP), the Math and Science Teacher Initiative Program (MSTI), Project Reach; Los Angeles Unified School District students, teachers and parents, and CSUDH faculty pitched in throughout the day.
“Pi Day Olympics were a great success,” said Hamdan. “A parent who is a project manager at another university within close proximity of CSUDH approached me and said: ‘What I want to know is why my university does not hold events like these in the community?’”