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Pi Day Huge Success

Pi Day Huge Success photo 3/15/2018 3:54:04 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Dorothy Fowler, Hobbs News Sun]

Archimedes, aka, Cade Acrey, greeted many of the people who came to the Lea County Event Center to celebrate Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Wednesday’s celebration was part of New Mexico Junior College’s annual Pi Day event honoring Pi, the number that starts with 3.14 and never ends. Internationally celebrated on March 14, the local event served as a family function to help enhance math and science education.

Acrey, an NMJC student, said he dreamt about a geometry problem that involved a triangle and arced figures he referred to as “luns” and wanted to know how to calculate the the area covered by the triangles plus the luns.

“I had to get a math teacher to figure it out for me,” Acrey said.

Acrey was one of 50 or 60 volunteers who manned the more than 40 booths set up with different activities designed to teach visitors something about problem-solving using mathematical principles and formulas. Each volunteer was eager to pass along his or her knowledge about the mathematical principle illustrated at the table where he was working.

Edison Elementary second grader Isabella Tovar, age 8, was enthusiastic about rubbing a balloon across a plush rug. The object was to create enough static electricity to set up a magnetic field strong enough to pull a soft drink can placed on its side off a plastic cup. Although she rubbed the balloon with gusto, Tovar couldn’t generate enough static electricity to do more than pull a flexible tab a small distance away from the can.

OXY production engineer Adam Pennell watched and coached people like Tovar, who attempted to pull the soft drink can. However no one succeed. Pennell said he attended school in Hobbs and became a Pi Day volunteer as a way of giving back to the community where he grew up.

Two tables away, Highland Middle School eighth grader Janya Banks, 14, and seventh grader Branae Jackson, 13, presided over the Cartesian diver. This display involves putting a cylinder filled with air and water into a plastic water bottle, putting the lid on tightly and letting the cylinder sink to the bottom. Then, the experimenter squeezes the water bottle and the cylinder (the Cartesian diver) pops to the top of the bottle.

Across the arena, NMJC students Kerry Brooks, and Allison Baker invited people to experience static electricity through the effects of a Van der Graaf generator.

NMJC sophomore Nayma Nunez and Hobbs High junior Jesus Vargas used pencil-shaped flashlights to project small blue, green and red dots on a piece of white poster board, measure the distance between the dots, and then find the square root of that distance.

Elementary and middle school students demonstrated more knowledge about triangles and squares.

Jefferson Elementary third grader Taily Delgado, 9, said, “I learned that you can make rectangles and triangles by putting different shaped things together.”

While fellow third grader Ailyn Gonzalez, 9, said she learned that, “You can use different shaped things to make new shapes.”

For visitors who were hungry, chicken pot pie and pizza pie was available, along with bottled water, all free.

NMJC Math Department Chairman Shyla McGill said she was pleased with the turnout.

“We put out about twice as many fliers advertising Pi Day this year,” she said, adding that they event had 10 more booths than last year.

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