UW Students Marvel in Math With Participation in Wyoming Pi Days

University of Wyoming students, like many around the world, celebrated Pi Day with fun and challenging math problems.

Twenty-five UW students participated in Wyoming Pi Days, a series of three “Pizza and Problem Solving” evenings in which students got together, ate pizza and worked on a series of mathematics/logic problems.

These evenings -- March 21 and 26, and April 1 -- culminated in an examination called Pi Day Competition: a three-hour exam consisting of problems of varying difficulty that took place April 6. The problems in the exam are similar in complexity to those tackled during the “Pizza and Problem Solving” evenings. Twenty of the 25 students took the exam.

“Wyoming Pi Days is a blast, both for the students and the coordinators,” says Jorge Flores, an assistant lecturer of mathematics and one of the coordinators of Wyoming Pi Days. “We get to eat pizza, socialize and work on fun math and logic problems together. The event helps students see that math can be social and fun and helps them build a community with students of similar interests.”

Wyoming Pi Days was hosted and sponsored by the UW Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The event, for UW undergraduate students of all majors interested in mathematics, is an homage to the number pi, which is approximately 3.14.

Other event coordinators from the department were Tyrrell McAllister, an associate professor, and Christina Knox, an assistant lecturer.

The coordinators of the event discussed outstanding submissions for the Pi Day Competition and recognized the following participants, listed by hometown:

Cheyenne -- Connor Gililland, a senior majoring in statistics and chemical engineering, with a mathematics minor; and Cade Pugh, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering and mathematics.

Fredericktown, Ohio -- Carissa Van Slyke, a senior majoring in secondary education (mathematics) and mathematics, with minors in honors, Spanish and English as a second language.

Laramie -- Jonathan Oler, a Laramie High School junior taking classes at UW.

The competition winners each received a certificate and a grand prize -- a Möbius strip sculpture.

“We hope that Wyoming Pi Days served as a way for students to see how fun problem-solving can be and to meet other students with similar interests,” Flores says.

All registered participants who took the Pi Day Competition exam and attended at least one problem-solving session received participation prizes. The participation prizes were a math/problem-solving book and a T-shirt commemorating the event.

Eric Moorhouse, a UW professor of mathematics, created the T-shirt design. Jason Williford, department head and a UW professor of mathematics, provided financial and moral support. Organizers give a special thanks to Ping Zhong, an assistant professor of mathematics, and his National Science Foundation grant, which paid for the books given to the participants.

For more information about Wyoming Pi Days, email Flores at jfloresm@uwyo.edu.

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