Pi Day 2012 was celebrated in the library in Aquinas on Wednesday 14th March. Over 160 pupils and Ms J Connolly enjoyed four periods of Mathematical fun and games that saw the introduction of a brand new Mental Maths contest called The Sigma Challenge, and our now traditional Pi Memorisation Challenge.

Ms Connolly and Ms Scally also worked together in the weeks approaching Pi Day to encourage pupils to write Pi Poetry, where the number of letters in the words of the poems had strictly to follow the digits of Pi. The work produced by pupils from all year groups was superb and showed that Maths and English can forge creative and logical links when we work together. The best and most original poems are now on display in the Mall.

Special thanks go to Year 9 pupils Adam Caskey, Finian Hagan, Michael Morgan and Noah Shivley-Blinn for all their hard work in the months before Pi Day. These boys were tireless in their endeavours to publicise the event with posters around the school, and through selling entrance tickets at lunch-time and break-time. They also helped Ms Connolly to organise the Pi Ballot and even made Pi buns and cupcakes, which were sold around the school. Michael Morgan’s mum went to an immense amount of trouble to craft a fantastic Pi hat made from chocolate that we obviously balloted easily. All of their efforts contributed to us raising much more than our original target of £314 for Trócaire.

Congratulations to new Pi Champion and new school record holder Róisín Guthrie (Year 13), who romped home with a flawless 612 memorised digits. All hail our new female chief! Matthew Nixon (Year 12), the previous Pi guru, lost out on this occasion to come second with a very credible 458 digits and, to Matthew’s credit, he proved to be a very graceful and respectful usurped champion. Well done also to third place winner, Katie Martin (Year 10), who remembered 156 digits and is a possible future champion in the making. All of the twelve contestants did very well and inspired the audience to look on us nerdy Maths lovers in a whole new light.

The purpose of The Sigma Challenge is to spark that latent flame of mental arithmetic prowess that we all seem to lose over time because of our spiralling addiction to useful-but-overused scientific calculators. Ms Connolly has witnessed indisputable evidence that the ‘older generation’ put even well-qualified youngsters to shame when it comes to working with money, measurements etc ‘in their heads’. Fourteen brave pupils from Year 9 to Year 14 stood before the crowd to have their brains put to the test in increasingly tough rounds that involved numbers in all their guises. Congratulations to Finian Hagan (Year 9) and Declan Downey (Year 14) who tied in first place. Well done also to Aidan Conway (Year 9) who placed after them and to Senan Magennis (Year 14) who took next place. The fact that young Finain and Aidan and non-A’ level Maths student Declan saw off Additional Maths and A’ level Maths students on the day seems to show that people can have great Mathematical skill, without necessarily having done many Maths qualifications. Think on, folks!

Catherine Hewitt and Caitlin Hooke (Year 10) deserve a special mention for organising the Pi Flash mob on 13th March. The Mall came to a stand-still as the girls and their ‘mob’ took to the ‘dance-floor’ to strut their Mathematical stuff. More thanks are due to Ms Scally for helping them practise and for being so actively supportive of Pi Day in general.

Maths prefect Conor McCrory (Year 14) addressed the crowd with a heartfelt and witty speech, which told us about his love of Maths and how it gives him the algebraic ‘X’ factor in his life (and with the ladies). Please read his words of wisdom below because you will emerge the better for it.

We look forward to Pi Day 2013!

Ms Joanne Connolly