Pi Day Celebration in Rwanda

ICTP partner institute holds mathematics competition
Pi Day Celebration in Rwanda

Each year on 14 March, International Pi Day highlights the magic and fun of mathematics. Pi Day is often celebrated through pie bake-offs, digit recital competitions, or math tests. In each case the goal remains the same: to recognize the importance, and encourage the pursuit, of mathematics.

In the spirit of pi, the University of Rwanda and ICTP's partner institute, the East African Institute for Fundamental Research (EAIFR), recently hosted their second annual Pi Day Competition. Sponsored by the African Institution for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the University of Rwanda and ICTP, the competition brought together 114 high school 'mathletes' for a three-hour exam. Without the help of calculators, students relied solely on their own knowledge and logic skills. After three intense hours, the top four winners (three boys and a girl) each earned 500 US dollars. The overall winner was also awarded an iPad.

The competition was followed by lectures from ICTP mathematician Fernando Rodriguez Villegas, and the president of the American Mathematics Association, Michael J. Dorff.

The competition strives to discover, encourage and challenge mathematically gifted young people while helping foster collaboration between governments and mathematicians alike. “We want to show them how math is beautiful,” said University of Rwanda faculty member Celestin Kurujyibwami, the primary event organizer. “And we want to prepare the students to enter STEM fields with a very strong background in mathematics.” Indeed, EAIFR plans to train students for the 2020 International Math Olympiad competition, to be held in the
Russian Federation.

The event was also part of a growing initiative to create a mathematics association of Rwanda. EAIFR director Omololu Akin-Ojo hopes that this can be accomplished with the collaboration of the Rwandan Association of Women in Science and Engineering. Kurujyibwami is visiting ICTP this month as part of the visiting fellows programme, and to strengthen the partnership between ICTP and EAIFR. No matter how 14 March is celebrated, the impacts that Pi Day has brought to the international scientific community, young and old, are truly infinite.

--Maria Leuzinger

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