A mouthful of Pi: B.C. teacher recites 1,510 digits in 18 minutes

Shawnigan Lake’s Tim Coy’s mark is fifth all-time in Canadian rankings, students also impressive

Teacher Tim Coy recited Pi to 1,510 digits in a competition at Shawnigan Lake School on March 14, while four students also surpassed 160 digits. (Arden Gill photo)

Teacher Tim Coy recited Pi to 1,510 digits in a competition at Shawnigan Lake School on March 14, while four students also surpassed 160 digits. (Arden Gill photo)

There’s no word on how good Tim Coy is at baking, but the English teacher at Shawnigan Lake School on southern Vancouver Island sure knows his Pi.

Coy recited the beloved mathematical constant to 1,510 digits during a competition at the school on — what else? — Pi Day: March 14. (The first three digits of Pi are 3.14.)

Coy’s feat, which took 18 minutes, is the fifth-best time in Canadian history, and 123rd in the world rankings. In 1974, he would have set a new world record.

Four students took part in the competition as well, led by Grade 10 Max Chong, who recited 423 digits, good for eighth in the Canadian rankings and 325th in the world.

The goal was to recite, from memory, as many decimal places as possible. The rules allowed for an error of one digit, which had to be corrected before moving on to the next, and competitors were allowed two attempts. Three adjudicators monitored the recitations and agreed on the result.

“We had a qualifying bar of 60 digits and I expected there to be quite a few who could reach 100 digits, especially given the short window of time to practice,” said organizer and math teacher Mark Swannell. “However, I was not expecting the sheer quality of the contest. I loved the fact that we had a cross-section of competitors and appreciated the time they put into this niche event.”

The other competitors included Gabriel Dyer, who recited 186 digits (612th in the World Pi Rankings); Jack McConnell, who reached 172 digits (629th), and Brianna Hick, who got to 161 digits (659th).

The whole week ahead of Pi Day featured competitions, quizzes and cross-curricular activities at the school, culminating in the big contest, as well as a special pie lunch. The five finalists competed not only for glory and a place in the World Pi Rankings, but also for a trophy created by Grade 11 student Gabriel Au.

“We hope this will become an annual event here at Shawnigan,” Swannell said. “These mathletes have set the bar high for future events.”

The event was filmed by Grade 11 student Marc Chen.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ MORE: Teen unofficially breaks world record for most Rubik’s cubes solved while hula hooping

READ MORE: The Tube Shack breaks world record on Cowichan River

cowichan valley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Village council saw an application to build a seven foot fence around a 3rd Ave. property in Nakusp. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)
Village of Nakusp sees application for seven foot fence

Council raised concerns about curb appeal

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

British Columbia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Wildfire fanned by winds near Merritt prompts evacuation alert

BC Wildfire Service says the suspected human-caused blaze was fanned by winds

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
National fitness group condemns unlicensed Kelowna gym’s anti-vaccine policy

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada says Flow Academy is shining a negative light on the industry

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Most Read