Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

High school Pi Day competition held at GCC


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Ironwood - Gogebic Community College played host to nearly 100 local middle and high school students for the inaugural Pi Day Competition on March 20.

Thirty-one teams of three students from grades 7-12, representing four school districts within the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District competed in a series of mathematical problems if not related to, certainly in honor of, pi - the ratio of the circumference of a circle to it's diameter - approximately 3.14 and represented by the Greek letter for p.

The event was created in collaboration among GCC, the Western UP MiSTEM Network, and the GOISD. Students from Bessemer, Ironwood, Wakefield-Marenisco and Watersmeet competed in three rounds of mathematical competition.

In the Team Challenge, the students worked complex word problems and scenarios that demanded a bit of reasoning, while the Lightning Round included a variety of math questions that were mostly computational, all done without calculators.

Each team collaborated at its own long table set up in the Lindquist Center gymnasium.

From Luther L. Wright High School, the Ironwood Ratio - consisting of Nathan Jaunzems, Devon Mead and Alex Schiiller - won the overall competition, as well as the Team Challenge round.

The Ironwood Irrationals - team members Aubrey Smith, Zach Smith and John Balchik - won the Lightning Round.

Breanna Freeman of Ironwood won the Pi-digit memorization competition, reciting 385 digits.

Finally, from Bessemer's A.D. Johnston High School, Gus Matrella, Matthew Switzer and Leland Hollenbeck of Team Algebros won the Best Team Name award, voted on by the event's volunteers.

"Approximately two dozen student volunteers and staff from GCC, as well as volunteers and teachers from the GOISD and the Western U.P. MiSTEM Network came together to make this event possible," said Rebecca Binkley, curriculum and instruction consultant at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District.

She said the MiSTEM Network is a statewide organization that works to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Within that network, the Western U.P. MiStem Network deals with the Gogebic-Ontonagon and Copper Country intermediate school districts.

"Congratulations to all of our winning teams and thank you to all of our students, staff, and volunteers who made this event possible," said Binkley.

A majority of the questions were written by GCC instructors, said Binkley. She thanked them for their important input into the day's competition.

While Pi Day is technically celebrated on March 14 - 3/14 in a nod to 3.14 - the competition was held on March 20 to accommodate GCC's spring break, said Binkley.

"The kids didn't mind because they still got pie," she said. "There was pie for everyone."