#PiDay March 14, 2019 STEMdaily

by STEMconnector

In a special edition of STEMdaily for #PiDay, Google Cloud was able to set a new record for calculating π using the cloud, some tips on how to enjoy the day that don’t involve eating pie, and a history of its celebration. Plus Samantha Bee covered the #MeToon movement involving women animators on her show last night, Olin College president Richard K. Miller reflects on lessons learned in Olin’s experiment revolutionizing higher education, ASU offers free virtual field trips, Congress introduces the the Building Blocks of STEM Act, and the Breakthrough documentary on cancer research debuts at SXSW.

Click here for the entire PiDay STEMdaily!

Pi in the sky: Calculating a record-breaking 31.4 trillion digits of Archimedes’ constant on Google Cloud 
In honor of Pi Day, today March 14 (represented as 3/14 in many parts of the world), we’re excited to announce that we successfully computed π to 31.4 trillion decimal places—31,415,926,535,897 to be exact, or π * 1013. This has broken a Guiness World Record, and the first time the record was broken using the cloud, proving Google Cloud’s infrastructure works reliably for long and compute-heavy tasks.

How Pi Made Us Modern (New York Times) 
When my children were young, they liked to stare at a pie plate hanging in our kitchen, with the digits of pi running around the rim and spiraling in toward the center, shrinking in size as the numbers swirled into the abyss. Pi, as we all learned in school (and are reminded every March 14, on Pi Day), is defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. For some people, Pi Day is an occasion to marvel at circles, long revered as symbols of perfection, reincarnation and the cycles of nature. But it is the domestication of infinity that we really should be celebrating.

If you’ve been using Pi Day as an excuse to just eat pie, you’re doing it wrong. (CNN) 
Pi Day occurs March 14, because the date is written as 3/14 in the United States. If you’re a serious math geek, celebrate the day exactly at 1:59 a.m. or p.m. so you can reach the first six numbers of pi, 3.14159. March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Physicist Larry Shaw started Pi Day in 1988 at San Francisco’s Exploratorium to celebrate the famous number and mathematics in general. In 2009, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to recognize Pi Day. 


Diversity in STEM

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Indigenous STEM Awards (IndigenousX) 
The Indigenous STEM Awards recognise, reward and celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and scientists who are studying and working in STEM, as well as the integral role schools, teachers and mentors have in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in pursuing STEM education and careers. There are a total of twelve awards over seven categories that cover high school and undergraduate students, STEM professionals, schools, teachers and mentors.

Samantha Bee Looks at the #MeToo Movement Through the Lens of Female Animators (Hollywood Reporter) 
“Nerdy cartoonist girls” speak about breaking into the industry and experiencing sexual harassment from male colleagues, particularly Chris Savino, creator of ‘The Loud House’ on Nickelodeon. During Wednesday night’s episode of Full Frontal, host Samantha Bee gave her take on the #MeToo movement utilizing the perspectives of a group of female animators who share common stories of sexual harassment.

Hands-On AP Computer Science Principles Course Has Broad Appeal for Diverse Groups of Students — and Is Changing How They See Themselves (The74) 
Seth Reichelson has been teaching Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles at Lake Brantley High School in Orlando, Florida, for three years, and he’s still surprised by the ingenuity the course brings out in his students. “I love seeing what my students design and implement,” he says of the nation’s fastest-growing AP class. Introduced three years ago, AP Computer Science Principles takes a much more creative, hands-on approach than the AP’s old standby, Computer Science A — with the goal of appealing to a far more diverse array of students. 

Higher Education

Richard K. Miller (President, Olin College): Lessons from the Olin Experiment (ISSUES) 
Higher education is notoriously hard to change. Despite the fact that the world into which students are graduating has altered radically, and continues to change at an ever-increasing rate, higher learning remains stuck in an essentially nineteenth-century industrial model in which the most important goal is knowledge transfer. But in today’s environment students are more and more called on to construct their own knowledge, cross disciplinary boundaries, and use their learning to make an impact in the world. Many educational leaders believe lessons from Olin College of Engineering, an unusual educational start-up barely 20 years old, may provide a path forward not only for STEM, but also for higher education writ large.

University-Created Virtual Field Trips Deliver Interactive Exploration for Free (T.H.E. Journal) 
While birds chitter in the background, a group of students sit in their beach chairs at a beach camp set up near the Nankoweap Granaries, trying to pay attention as their professor gives them an introduction to the geology of that most remarkable of natural formations, the Grand Canyon.. one of the many virtual field trips Arizona State University has made freely available. “Virtual Field Trips,” offers interactive experiences captured during actual expeditions with scientists doing current research. 



U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens sponsors bill directing more funding into STEMeducation research (Oakland Press) 
On Tuesday, Michigan Congresswoman Haley Stevens has introduced her first sponsored bill as a newly-elected member of Congress. The Building Blocks of STEM Act, which directs NSF o more equitably allocate funding, with a focus on supporting STEM education research on early childhood. The bill also directs the NSF to support research on the factors that discourage or encourage girls to engage in STEM activities, including computer science.

STEM Media

Breakthrough, the rare science documentary that feels like a miracle (Ars Technica) 
“It’s astonishing how few documentaries there are about gifted scientists,” filmmaker Bill Haney tells Ars about Breakthrough, his new documentary premiering over the weekend at South by Southwest. “Part of it is, most filmmakers don’t know much about science, they’re thinking about film. But science can be complex, and audiences can be overwhelmed by scientific subjects. If you’re not careful, you can make NOVA, which hits your head not your heart.” Luckily for audiences, Breakthrough has both. And that’s because (luckily for Haney) recent Nobel-winning scientist Dr. James Allison agreed to be the film’s focal point, and his groundbreaking work centered on empowering the immune system to battle cancer. The documentary spends ample amounts of time in the lab detailing everything from how the scientist first became fascinated by T cells to his years of work leading up to the potentially game-changing cancer drug, Ipi. (No less than Woody Harrelson narrates each of Allison’s scientific steps along the way.)

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