SUNY Fredonia students find fun in math education

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward The Pi-vestigators won the CS(Pi) Pi Day event at SUNY Fredonia March 7. From left: Zack Crandall, Emma Booth, Kaitlin Patt, Erin Gawlak, Dr. Joseph “The Godfather” Straight, Amanda Zablonski and kneeling, Dr. Keary Howard.

Middle school to graduate students and even a few professors, puzzled over math problems in a lecture hall at the SUNY Fredonia campus March 7. Their goal? Find out which professor “killed” student Michelle Persaud, where and with what.

“It’s our 19th consecutive year celebrating Pi Day,” Dr. Keary Howard, professor of math education stated as the theme to Law & Order blared in the background. “Essentially what we do is have the graduate students orchestrate it and set a theme (this year’s is CSPi). We’ll participate in about four or five preliminary events that have a little math and have a crime scene investigation component to it. Teams from throughout the university sign up and compete to win tee shirts and their name in perpetuity on the Pi Cup, which is our version of the Stanley Cup. It’s a nice way for us to build up comradery within the department and it’s a celebration for us in all things mathematic with the added bonus reminder that spring is on the way.”

Pi Day falls on March 14 as the first three numbers in the infinite statement is 3.14. However, due to spring break falling this week, it was held a week early.

This year’s competition consisted of eight teams ranging in age groups from 12 on up.

“This event is open to the high school, college even the community,” Dr. Teodora Cox, professor of mathematics added.

The events in this CLUE styled who-dun-it that the graduate students designed included a Pi-cipher; SMADness (which stands for Subtraction, Multiplication, Addition, Division), where participants have an answer and using a series of four digits rolled on a die, have to construct equations that equal that answer; I-S(Pi), where teams have to find hidden equation answers hidden around the room and Riddle Me This, where teams solve a puzzle of a cut up sheet of paper and solve the riddle. Winning teams received a clue card. If a team didn’t win an event a member of each group would go to the front and give a “best guess” answer to a math equation, the closest team would receive a play card.

Of the teams two tied, so it went to a “best guest” decision and thus the Pi-vestigators came out victorious.

The final solution was that Dr. Julia Wilson, Associate Professor Chair was the murderer in Fenton 108 with a ruler.