Annual Pi Day Contest

By March 11, 2020Blog

Pi Day Celebration

Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π. Each year the celebration takes place on March 14. The significance of this date is represented by the number 3.14, which are the first three digits of pi. Proof Kitchen + Lounge will celebrate Pi Day this year in a special way.

This year we have partnered with the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) department. John Galbraith, along with his team, have provided a special equation and solution that is customized for our Pi Day Contest. Saturday, March 7 until Saturday, March 14 we will share the custom created equation through their our Instagram page (@proofkitchenlounge). Each day of the contest period, we will select one winner based on their submission. Contest details can be found on our Instagram page.

Free Slice of Pie for Pi Day

In addition to the Instagram Contest, we will also provide a free slice of milk chocolate pie with the purchase of one entrée on March 14, 2020. We are proud to be partnering with Eby Manor Farm who will be supplying the chocolate milk for the special pi day pie.

Learn More About Our CEMC Partner

Q+A with John Galbraith

High School Resource Specialist, CEMC

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity


1. How long have you been the School Resource Specialist at CEMC?

I have been a school resource specialist since August 2010, just about 10 years. Before that I was a high school math teacher for 30 years. Other members of the team (Rob, Ashley and Christine) have similar roles.  Jen is a lecturer who loves working with us on Problem of the Week (POTW). Lucie is a staff member who works with the project. POTW is a team effort!

2. What are some of the main aspects of your role?

I would say the role has four main components for me. I work mostly on Problem of the Week. Then we have an extensive school visiting program where we do problem solving workshops, contest preparation workshops, and real life application workshops.  We visit mainly students in grades 7 to 12. This year I went to New Brunswick and PEI for two full weeks. I also help in the validation process of our contests. Other things that I have done here include authoring for our grade 12 Advanced Functions free online courseware.

3. How did the idea for POTW start?

When I started POTW was an idea in the mind of one of our directors, Mike Eden. They asked if I would like to take it on and I said sure. We sent out our first problems in January of 2011. We only created problems for three levels (grade 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12) to begin and only worked in English. Now we have grown to 5 levels in English, 4 levels in French, 1 level (soon to be 2) in Spanish, and two levels in Bahasa (an Indonesian language) as part of another project. This year the CEMC launched a Problem of the Month as well. This is a (monthly) problem to challenge the brightest students who need a problem to sink their teeth into.

4. How many students participate weekly with POTW

We did a survey in 2015 to ask how many people would see a problem that was sent to a subscriber. We determined that an average of 20 people would see an email on average. This morning we sent out 75 686 emails. If indeed they reach the average of 20 each, we reached 1 513 720 people (not just students). Someone told me that this may be larger than the number who do the New York Times crossword on Saturdays? I don’t know if it is true but it is cool.

5. I know you enjoy creating the POTW’s; do you and your colleagues like solving math problems too?

The answer is yes.  Sometimes we love solving them too much and they occupy a great deal of time. During the validation of contests, we often encounter tougher problems near the end of contests and it is very satisfying to solve them. I personally like a good problem. I am not always able to solve each problem but I love the challenge. That is true for the others who work with me as well.

6. Do you do anything special to celebrate March 14th?

At the university, in the Math Faculty on March (3) 14th at 1:59 the students gather for pie and ice cream on the third floor of the Math and Computer building. This year pi day falls on a Saturday. I do not know what the campus celebration will look like. At home, there is always pie of some sort (Shepherd’s pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc.). I will often send out an acknowledgment on Facebook to all my friends. My own kids have gotten in to it.

7. Is there anything else that I can include about CEMC or yourself that you would like to share?

The CEMC has become Canada’s largest and most recognized outreach organization for promoting and creating activities and materials in mathematics and computer science. The CEMC is housed within the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. It was founded in 1995 with origins dating back to the 1960s.

Mission Statement:  To increase interest, enjoyment, confidence, and ability in mathematics and computer science among learners and educators in Canada and internationally.

I am retiring in August of this year. But I am confident that POTW will continue and it will grow. I have had a blast working on this project. The team is amazing!

If you are interested in POTW click here.