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

Food trucks will be allowed to operate in several Sooke parks beginning May 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke’s food truck pilot project under scrutiny

Councillor questions impact food trucks will have on nearby restaurants

A walk for autism awareness. (Black Press Media file photo)
COLUMN: Autism acceptance, not autism awareness

Elizabeth Sparling is the mother of a 24-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Claremont Secondary’s year-long drama class will perform TRAP, a thrilling play by Stephen Gregg, virtually from April 14-17 at 7 p.m. (Image courtesy Colin Plant)
Claremont’s drama students to ‘TRAP’ audience’s attention with thrilling virtual performances

Grade 9-12 drama class will perform via livestream from April 14-17

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

Most Read