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

Shannon Claypool, president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, stands outside the Cloverdale Rec. Centre. The rec. centre has been set up as a mass vaccination site by Fraser Health and the Association has decided to cancel the rodeo in order to offer the fairgrounds for public parking. (Submitted)
Cloverdale Rodeo cancelled

Fairgrounds to be used as public parking for mass vaccination site at Cloverdale Rec. Centre

Surrey city council chambers. (File photo)
Surrey drugstores seeking relaxation of spacing rules ‘a challenge,’ councillor says

‘Obviously we need pharmacies but it seems to me that we are getting an awful lot of applications,’ Brenda Locke says

News Bulletin file photo
Surrey waives outdoor patio fees for pubs, restaurants

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, praised the move

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
Man charged after pushing pregnant woman to the ground in Surrey, police say

Surrey RCMP say it appeared to be an ‘unprovoked assault’

A sign posted to a tree in Maccaud Park urges people to email White Rock City Council and oppose the construction of pickleball courts in the park. (Contributed photo)
White Rock council deems Maccaud Park pickleball courts out of bounds

Unanimous vote against constructing courts follows public feedback

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines, as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Most Read