Can I Have a Slice of Pi? Maynard H. Jackson Students Discuss Pi for WABE Radio Listeners

By: Erica Fatima

Today March 14, or 3.14 is National Pi Day and school systems all around the Nation, including APS, are celebrating the famous equation.  But who would have thought that an equation, represented by two letters Pi, could also cause controversy and have detractors?

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Left to right: WABE host, Rose Scott; Maynard H. Jackson students, Isabelle Welch and Jaden Cody; WABE host, Jim Burress; Maynard H. Jackson Assistant Principal, Faya Paul 

What is Pi? Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same. The mathematician Archimedes used polygons with many sides to estimate circles and determined that Pi was approximately 22/7. In recent years, Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits past its decimal. Only 39 digits past the decimal are needed to accurately calculate the spherical volume of our entire universe, but Pi is infinite & patternless.

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Jackson students made funny faces while celebrating Pi Day at the school.
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(l) Isabelle Welch, (r) Jaden Cody, prepare for their live interview at WABE News 90.1 FM

Math whizzes, Isabelle Welch and Jaden Cody are sophomores at Maynard H. Jackson High School, and they were selected to represent APS live, on-air, for an interview at WABE  News 90.1 FM to discuss Pi. On “Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress” the students engaged in dialogue about Pi and its uses and the importance of math. “Math is the basic foundation of so many things. I received a great start in 1st grade, my teachers made math fun,”Jaden said. “Now, as I aspire to go on to medical school, I’m ready to use math for critical calculations that may one day save lives. My teacher, Dr. Denson makes Pi and other math equations, ‘relatable,’ and that kind of teaching is why I love math.”

But, the students were shocked to learn that there are people who believe that Pi is controversial. WABE host, Rose Scott played a clip from a disgruntled mathematician, Vi Hart, who thinks Pi is “too complicated and overrated.”  After listening to the clip, student Isabelle Welch commented, “I can understand why some people may not like the equation; it goes on forever and even computers have not solved Pi to its final digit. But that’s no reason to say it’s wrong–it’s a math equation, and math is absolute.”

In closing, the students were asked to give a message to parents and students regarding the importance of math.

Isabelle Welch said, “Apply yourself, keep working until you figure it out; and once you do, math becomes fun. Now you understand, and its [the equation] no longer a challenge. Oh… and math will help you in everyday life; from learning how to balance a checkbook, to understanding mortgage rates.”

Jaden Cody said, “Math may not be for everyone; it is a challenge and can be tedious. But you can do anything you put your mind too. Make math relatable and kids will catch on.”

You can listen to the full interview here: (starting at minute 20:06)

 

 

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