When Liam Marshall was in third grade at Dixie Canyon Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, his teacher pointed out that he had a great talent for math. She recommended he head for the Math Academy at Millikan Middle School.
"Now I know that there is something I can do to apply my math skills to," said Liam, now 14 and in eighth grade. "I want to design airplanes."
But this week at the Sherman Oaks magnet school, Millikan Math Academy students are showing how math can be cool. And, Liam is participating in the pie-eating contest. No hands, very messy, but lots of fun.
"And I may get to throw a pie in my teacher's face," Liam said.
He and his friend Nikita Khromets, 13, are among the 240 Math Academy students raising money for their field trips at the school on Pi Day. It's for the more than 2,100 students at Millikan who are learning that "pi" (not just pie) is something that is in their every day lives.
"Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle," Nikita Khromets said. "It's a number that goes on forever."
Nikita is one of the students who earned a T-shirt for memorizing the first 50 numbers of pi, that starts of with 3.1415. A contest was held this week with the first prize getting $314, second prize $31.40 and third prize winning $3.14. Last year's winner could recite more than 1,100 digits.
Jennifer Marshall, Liam's mother, is delighted about the Math Academy and said, "This is probably the craziest day at Millikan. Everyone participates!"
Parents are dishing out cherry pies and apple pies, and they're cutting up pizza pies.
Head of the Math Academy, Michelle Yamasaki, started the Math Academy five years ago for students who were more proficient in math skills. "We show them what kinds of professions they can go into, and what practical applications their math skills can be used for in every day life," Yamasaki said.
See videos above of Yamasaki and the students, and some of the fun they are having on Pi Day.