Section: Features

Pi-oh-my! Assoc. for Women in Math hosts Pi Day event

Pi-oh-my! Assoc. for Women in Math hosts Pi Day event

Attendees tie-dyed sweatshirts and played math-themed card games. | COURTESY OF KHUE TRAN

Pi Day, observed annually on March 14, fell during spring break this year. However, that was no reason for the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) to miss out on celebrating — not just the iconic ratio that helps calculate the circumference and area of geometrical circles, but also the close-knit circles of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the community of Kenyon women in STEM. AWM hosted the Pi Day event on Monday in Hayes Hall 311, welcoming all students on their first day back to school. 

“Typically, when you do math, you get into the trap of ‘Let me solve this myself’ — you want to work alone,” Khue Tran ’25, president of AWM, said. “And the nice thing [about Kenyon] is that all the professors encourage us to work collaboratively. So we create the study halls and AWM events to make people feel more comfortable working with each other.”

With this collaborative spirit in mind, activities at the Pi Day event were a mix of both competitive games, such as Rummikub and Yahtzee, and bonding activities, such as friendship bracelet making and tie-dying sweatshirts together. Present at the event were members of AWM and the attendees whom Tran fondly referred to as “supporters” — math majors who don’t identify as women but support the increased representation of women in mathematics, and women in other STEM majors.

“Women in STEM from other departments [have] told me ‘we wish… our department [had] something similar [to AWM],’” Tran recalled. “It just made me very happy that we were able to host something like this for people in math.” One attendee, Ethan Liu ’26, wrote in an email to the Collegian: “I go to nearly every AWM study hall and often other events hosted by the math department such as Math Mondays. I really enjoy going to the AWM study halls as they are a great place to get work done with a fun atmosphere.”

A highlight of the event was the Set game rally, a multiplayer online game where, given a grid of 12 to 16 cards, players are tasked with picking out sets of three cards that are all similar or all different in each feature: shape, color, number and shading. “People think of math as being very number-oriented,” Tran said. However, she explained that the Set game subverts this preconceived notion with its reliance on visual components: “Everything can be imagined in a way that it’s more [mathematical].” 

A brainy challenge that does not require specialized mathematics knowledge, Set game was a hit among the attendees. Yelps of frustration and excitement erupted as the game progressed, punctuated by seconds of quiet intermissions when everyone was deep in concentration on the game. It led up to a thrilling finale between Liu and Leif Schaumann ’25, ending in a tie followed by a tense tiebreaker. 

After that, the attendee each got a beige AWM sweatshirt and put their creativity to use by tie-dying and using fabric markers to customize them to their liking. Many attendees adorned their sweatshirts with witty math-related jokes and puns. “It was a chance to show off your nerdiness,” Tran said.

Besides Pi Day, there have been several events hosted this year to bring the Department of Math community together.  “This year there have been a couple (unofficial) get-togethers with many of the students in the mathematics department where we have baked dessert (one night we made cookies and most recently we made crème brûlée),” Liu wrote. “This shows how close we are as a department and these events are great to be able to meet other students in the same department.” For people who have missed the brainy whimsy of Pi Day, there will be another event hosted by AWM near finals week to look forward to. 

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