Hendersonville Girl Wins National 'Pi Day' Competition
by Emily Luxen
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - A Hendersonville teenager is celebrating a win in an unusual national competition.
On March 14, or "Pi Day," Rachel Ooi recited more than 1700 digits of the number "pi" at an event at Princeton University. The 13-year-old won the competition for her age group and took home a check for $314.15.
"I'm very happy and joyful because I get to spend a lot of money now," Ooi laughed as she shared details about her experience.
Ooi said her studies of pi began as a hobby, but quickly escalated to daily practice sessions with her mom. She learned the number in four digit increments.
"At first it was kind of hard and then when I got the hang of it, it was pretty easy," said Ooi. "When I'm reciting the numbers it's like I have an invisible paper in front of me that has all the numbers."
"My wife would essentially just recite to her twice, and she remembers it," said Phillip Ooi, Rachel's father.
Phillip said Rachel was born with Glaucoma and is legally blind. He said her vision worsened in the last year, and that is when she began studying Pi.
"She started taking more of an interest in this," said Phillip Ooi. "She tried to find a better use of her time."
The Ellis Middle School Student said after learning of the competition at Princeton University, she was interested in attending.
"I was nervous," said Rachel Ooi. "After I recited a couple of digits I wasn't as nervous."
It took Rachel more than 10 minutes to recite all 1715 digits. The judges ruled she was the winner in her age group.
Rachel said 1715 digits is just the beginning. Her next goal is to memorize 20,000.