Opinion

The answer is pi

An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In the calendar lull between the celebratory dates of Fat Tuesday and St. Patrick’s Day is a date now gaining in popularity: Pi Day.

March 14, aka 3.14, represents the shortened number for pi — 3.14159 — the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Is such a date important for Americans to commemorate? More so than ever.

Following the United States’ original Sputnik moment in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the earth’s first artificial satellite, U.S. government and business leaders quickly got motivated to beat the Soviets.

With major new investments in education and focused thinking, the U.S. achieved technological superiority, including a victory in the Space Race that spurred many of the achievements in communications and electronics that we take for granted today.

Enticing youngsters into the fields of math and science at the time was a matter of national security. West Virginia’s famous National Youth Science Camp started during that era.

But as the Cold War wound down, so did this nation’s exuberance for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the all-important STEM fields. The Soviet Union is gone, but our current global competitors are far outpacing the United States in educating youth in STEM fields.

U.S. News & World Report wrote last November that the U.S. ranked 21 out of 23 developed countries in math, and 17th out of 19 countries surveyed in problem solving skills…

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