Circle of success: Hawthorne students celebrate Pi Day by reciting dozens of digits

(Elmhurst Titan video by Dave Lemery)

ELMHURST – Think about how many digits of pi you can recite. Then multiply that by 10, and then double that, and you’ll still probably fall well short of what Gio Santoro was able to remember Tuesday.

Pi Day, marked annually on March 14, is a tongue-in-cheek appreciation of the mathematical constant commonly displayed with the Greek character “π” or the number 3.14. Pi represents the ratio between the radius and area of a circle, and mathematicians have determined that it extends for an infinite number of decimal points, what is known as an irrational number. If you know the radius of a circle – the distance between its center and the edge – you can calculate the area using the formula A=π*r².

Students at Hawthorne celebrated this mathematical marvel Tuesday morning by rattling off as many digits as they could possibly remember. A similar event was set to be held at Bryan Middle School.

Gio, 10, a fifth-grader, recited pi to 413 digits, tops among the 145 students at Hawthorne who took part. He sprinted through the dozens of digits in a rush, and still it took almost three minutes for him to find a point where he couldn’t muster the next number.

Given that memorizing the entirety of pi is basically impossible even for all the world’s supercomputers, let alone 10-year-olds, teachers gave their students a more attainable, yet still difficult, goal to keep in mind: 20 digits. Any students who could recite that far received a sticker acknowledging their feat and will have their names recorded on an International Pi Day website.

Within the space of half an hour, all 145 students who took part were done as various teachers and staff pitched in to listen to each student taking part. When all was said and done, 15 students had exceeded 100 digits and an impressive number had crossed the targeted 20-digit mark.

This year was the sixth that Hawthorne marked Pi Day, and the event was orchestrated by REACH teacher Geri Sorrentino.

All of the Hawthorne Elementary School students who were able to recite more than 100 digits of pi on March 14, 2017, pose in an appropriate shape – a circle. (Photo provided by Hawthorne Elementary School)