Can You Be Motivated by Pie?

March 22, 2023

by: Derek Guyton

Hopefully you had a chance to ‘celebrate’ National Pi Day on March 14th with something fun. I took the opportunity to have my favorite pie, (gluten-free) pecan pie, this past week and it was fantastic, as always! In looking for information on the origins of National Pi Day I found that the earliest known celebration was held in 1988 in the San Francisco science museum, the Exploratorium.

Interestingly, I also found that many countries celebrate Pi Day on July 22. This occurs because those countries use the DD/MM format and pi is roughly 22/7. This all led me to the declaration in 2019 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that March 14 will also be known as the International Day of Math or IDM. Per the IDM website this day is: “is the opportunity to explain and celebrate the essential role that mathematics and mathematics education play in breakthroughs in science and technology, improving the quality of life, empowering women and girls, and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda (SDG1-17) of the United Nations.” I believe that anyone reading this blog would be 100% in agreement with this objective.

The International Mathematical Union identified 11 major goals for this day. IDM’s Major goal number six seems especially important to our profession: “Highlight the role of mathematics in the organization of modern society, including economic, financial, health and transport systems, telecommunications in the quest for human well-being, etc.” I think we can agree that the future health of the actuarial profession greatly depends on the public’s understanding of the importance of the work we do. That future health also greatly depends on our ability to attract students with an inclination toward or interest in STEM fields who are representative of the US population. Fortunately, there are many efforts underway to do just that. 

I think most actuaries are well aware that both the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and Society of Actuaries (SOA) continue to work hard every day to introduce actuarial science careers to high school and college students. Less well known are the efforts by the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA), the Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA), the Sexuality and Gender Alliance of Actuaries (SAGAA) and The Actuarial Foundation. Each organization offers many scholarship opportunities that serve to attract future actuaries. 

While a monetary donation to those organizations will go toward great causes, there are also things that each of us can do that just require a commitment of some time. One such program from the Actuarial Foundation is Math Motivators.

From the Foundation’s website: “Math Motivators is an innovative tutoring program that closes the achievement gap by using a volunteer-driven math tutoring program that pairs underserved students in grades 3-12 with professionals and college students with strong mathematics backgrounds.” Some CCA members are active in this program and find it to be well run and highly rewarding.

Member Steve Pribis offered the following on his involvement with Math Motivators:

For me, the Math Motivators program has been a way of giving back to my community what I was blessed with during my working years (I am now retired). I have been tutoring geometry to the same student since October. It’s been much more than a tutor/student relationship. It’s been rewarding to see the commitment of the student and his family to take an hour each week to help him get the knowledge he so passionately wants. I encourage more of us to get involved.” 

The Foundation website provides all the information you need to get started with Math Motivators. With National Volunteer Month coming up in April, this would be a great time to get involved. Maybe you can bring some pie to your first student session!