Rainbow Student Memorizes 220 Digits of Pi

Rainbow Student Memorizes 220 Digits of Pi

The Number Pi

Do you know about the number pi?

Aside from being the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet – šš· – it is also a unique number.

If you take the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, no matter how big or small a circle is, this number is the same. That is, dividing any circumference of a circle by its diameter, you’ll still get the same result: pi.

Before we share the number, we need to explain that it’s an irrational number. Its decimals are infinite. They go on forever, though they do not repeat, such as when you get the decimal form of 2/3: 0.66666666…and on to infinity.

Here are the first 100 digits of pi: 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679

A Pi Day Tradition

Each year in 6th grade Omega, on March 14, students have a “Pi Day” showdown. Students who want to participate in Pi day spend time memorizing as many digits of Pi (after the number 3) as they can.

Students get up and recite them in front of their classmates. Even if they have memorized hundreds of numbers, the added challenge of doing this in front of peers doesn’t guarantee that a person will be able to flawlessly recite their memorized numbers.

Some students memorized the first two digits (ha!). Some memorized 30 digits, 61 digits, 71 digits, 73 digits, 103 digits, and one student kept going…and going…to 220 digits!

Why Memorize Digits of Pi?

It may seem at first glance that memorizing lots of numbers in rapid succession for “rote memorization” isn’t a great use of time. Besides, why do that when you can just search that number on the web?

You might not know about the real benefits of doing an exercise like this.

First, let’s talk numbers.

In 1981, Rajan Mahadevan (of India) correctly recited 31,811 digits of pi. Eight years later, Hideaki Tomoyori (of Japan) would recite 40,000 digits in competition. In 2005, Lu Chao (of China) broke the world record for correctly reciting 67,890 digits of pi.

Impressive, no?

But get this. Those folks don’t have extraordinary memorization powers. Oh, no. It’s strategy.

These people simply learned different methods for effectively memorizing large amounts of information. It’s not hard to see how this would translate to the classroom. By learning how to memorize numbers in various ways, students can apply those skills to memorizing other important information, such as historical dates, social security numbers, drivers license numbers, and more.

They also start to understand their own process of learning and what is most effective.

Memorization Strategies

Mind Palace or The Method of Loci

Basically, this method uses location as a way to trigger the memory. Let’s say someone wants to remember 24 digits. Standing in front of the kitchen sink, for example, they would memorize four or five digits. Then they could move toward the window and memorize a few more, and move again to the couch, then to a door, each time memorizing a few more digits of a number.

To recite the numbers, the person then starts again at the kitchen sink, moves toward the window and retraces the path they first took – essentially moving “through the palace” to visualize and remember the numbers.


This method calls for memorizing numbers in smaller chunks. To make it more effective, a person could put them on cards, write them on paper on different lines, or write in names of people and “assign” a chunk of numbers to them.

Major System

This is another memorization technique in which numbers have consonant sounds and memory aids.

In fact, there are many ways to do this! The website The Art of Memory has many different techniques of improving memory skills and resources for learning how to memorize large amounts of information.

Here is a fun video on “How to Memorize Pi the Easiest Way Possible” by Memorize Academy:

At the very least, anyone looking up resources to memorize pi naturally gains research skills and cognitive reasoning skills to sift through all the information!

It’s More Than A Friendly Competition

Students who choose to get up and recite these numbers face some challenges. It’s not easy getting up in front of peers. But at Rainbow, teachers and students spend time on developing the “whole child,” and this includes developing those empathy skills that allow students to be supportive of each other as they go up and present in front of the class.

Everyone received an applause, a little hedgehog sticker for participation and support from classmates.

Then They Ate Pi…Er…Pie!

Though Rainbow has a policy on not eating sugar during the day, teachers will make exceptions for special occasions. This was definitely a special occasion: not eating pie on pi day amounts to…mathematical error.

Instead of regular pie, however, Jenny, our 6th grade teacher, got “cookie pie” as it was easier to transport. What would a celebration be without 3.14 candles?

We’re not sure which memorization method students used, but one thing is for sure: students learned about how they learn, and figured out different memorization techniques.

Design Challenge, Omega Style

Design Challenge, Omega Style

Experiential Learning With Simple Tools

In Omega, teachers often incorporate ways to make a lesson come alive. Students embarked on a design challenge of sorts, one in which they challenged themselves, worked against the clock, and figured out how to quickly problem-solve for a solution.

Rocket Launching

Using a piece of paper, tape, and a straw, students were challenged to make a flying object. The idea was to repeat the process three times, except they had less and less time with each round.

Round One

Students had five minutes. They collaborated in groups and could talk about what sort of rocket they’d like to build. When time was up, they only had one chance to launch and measure how far their paper rocket traveled.

rocket launching

Collaborating in groups. Round One.

The results for this first round would help inform students as to what trends they spotted, what modifications they might need to make, and what they could do to make their rockets go farther.

After all students launched their rockets, the range was from 0 inches all the way to 168″!

measuring flight distances

What’s so incredible is that students were extremely supportive of one another, and they immediately got to work on the second round to make iterations. In essence, they were using failure to inform their next decisions.

Round Two

The next round meant a shorter time: three minutes. Students concentrated furiously and worked to design better rockets.

student collaboration

The biggest challenge was not having the amount of time they did on the first round. But, using experiential data, they tried to figure out what would sail through the air the farthest.

rocket launches

The results were as varied as the first time! Flight paths ranged from 0″ to 176″!

Round Three

This time, all students only had one minute thirty seconds to build their rockets. The time constraint created the ultimate pressure! In fact, time went by so fast that they had only enough time to quickly put togetherĀ something and line up for the final launch:

final competition

Older rockets were left in place so students could compare and contrast their results. They began to analyze results, as well. All the scores ranged from 0″ to 159.5″.


Interestingly, it was the second round where someone got 176″. Perhaps it was the sweet spot between time and thinking to pull off something that would sail farther through the air.

Student observations included things like how it seemed like all the rockets formed a bell curve, how longer and narrower rockets seemed to go through the air more easily (though they didn’t always fly the farthest), and that being “smaller” wasn’t necessarily an indicator of how far an object would go.

Some students stayed with the same design all three rounds: one student built small paper airplanes and attempted to refine the configuration on each round. Other students modified their rockets based on their observations. Rounds two and three saw more slender rockets.

This incredible lesson helps students learn to innovate. By doing so, they’ll come up with ideas for an incredible Design Fair later in the semester.

Flashback Bowling Fundraiser

Flashback Bowling Fundraiser

Have Fun, Go Bowling, and Help Omega At the Same Time

Every year, Omega students go on an end-of-year trip. In the spirit of making sure every student has the opportunity to participate, Omega parents are hosting a bowling night, with all proceeds going toward the trip. What does that mean? Get your bowling gear ready, gather some friends, grab those 80s clothes hanging in your closet, and get ready to roll…a bowling ball.

Flashback Bowling

Details: Join us for an ’80s themed evening! You can register individually or with a team, dress up in your favorite ’80s costume and you’ll have the opportunity to win different prizes for the best-dressed team and the best bowling score. We’ll also have a silent auction

Date: February 23, 2018

Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Cost: $25 per person. Price includes cost of bowling, rental shoes, a beverage, and a raffle ticket. This event is for folks age 21 and up.

Sign up by filling out this form and registering your team! Please note: only one person can register a team.

Flashback Bowling Fundraiser

Bowling fundraiser for Omega End-of-Year Trip
  • If you would like to be part of a team, we'll do our best to get you on the team you'd like to be with. Please indicate the other folks' names with whom you'd like to form a team.
  • Please fill in your best email address
  • Please enter the best phone number to contact you
  • Price: $25.00
    If you would like to contribute an extra dollar amount to the fundraiser, we would be most grateful!
  • $0.00
    Once you register, no refunds can be given.

Teachers and RCS Staff – Register Here!

Flashback Bowling - RCS Staff

Bowling fundraiser for Omega End-of-Year Trip
  • If you would like to be part of a team, we'll do our best to get you on the team you'd like to be with. Please indicate the other folks' names with whom you'd like to form a team.
  • Please fill in your best email address
  • Please enter the best phone number to contact you
  • Price: $10.00
  • $0.00
    Once you register, no refunds can be given.