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

Sooke plans to begin construction of the $4.9-million Church Road corridor project this summer. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke hopes to start Church Road Corridor project this summer

Road upgrade includes a roundabout, sidewalks, bike lanes and boulevards

The site of the proposed rental housing development at 2197 Otter Point Rd. (District of Sooke)
District of Sooke approves development with 77 rental units

New parking lot for John Phillips Memorial Park included in project

Food trucks can begin operating on May 1 in three Sooke parks: Ed Macgregor, Broomhill Playground, and John Phillips Memorial Park (weekends only). (Pixabay)
Sooke open for food truck pilot project

Applications open April 15, program begins May 1

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
Provincial pandemic aid passes the Legion by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

New HousingHub financing funds will encourage developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read