Glebe math teacher cir­cles the web

Ottawa Citizen - - City - BY WILLIAM LIN

A video clip of a Glebe Col­le­giate math teacher draw­ing what seems to be a per­fect cir­cle by hand has at­tracted hun­dreds of thou­sands of hits on­line in just a few days.

But don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing you see on­line: the Ottawa res- ident is not re­ally the World Free­hand Cir­cle Draw­ing Cham­pion.

In the video, Alex Over­wijk, 41, who is head of Glebe’s math de­part­ment, stands in front of a chalk­board while his stu­dents watch.

“ This is some­thing I do in my spare time. I draw free­hand cir­cles and then I found out there was a world cham­pi­onship,” he told the class. “ It’s like win­ning the Masters. Once you win, you au­to­mat­i­cally get in­vited back ev­ery year.”

Af­ter some stretch­ing, he took a piece of chalk and drew what ap­peared to be a flaw­less cir­cle on the board.

Al­though the teacher never men­tions it on the video, the clip ti­tle dubs him World Free­hand Cir­cle Draw­ing Cham­pion.

That was ap­par­ently enough to get his video posted on Youtube. com, with the claim that he draws a “ per­fect free­hand cir­cle, one me­tre in di­am­e­ter, in less than a sec­ond.”

Glebe’s own web­site asks stu­dents if they knew one of their teach­ers was a cir­cle­draw­ing cham­pion.

YouTube, the video- shar­ing web­site, even fea­tured the clip on its front page yes­ter­day. Barely three days old, the clip al­ready had nearly 100,000 views by yes­ter­day evening and hun­dreds of com­ments.

As of last evening, the video had also at­tracted about 600,000 hits at Break. com, an­other videoshar­ing Web­site. Mean­while, a spate of blogs was al­ready show­ing the video, call­ing him one of the world’s fastest free­hand draw­ers.

But no such com­pe­ti­tion ex­ists, Mr. Over­wijk says. At least, not to his knowl­edge.

“ It’s my schtick with my kids. I’ve been telling them this story for 10 years,” Mr. Over­wijk, a 17- year vet­eran math teacher, said yes­ter­day.

Mr. Over­wijk stopped us­ing a com­pass nearly a decade ago to draw cir­cles be­cause “ it was just a pain.”

As a joke, he told his stu­dents that he was the free­hand cir­cle champ in Las Ve­gas, hav­ing watched the bar­tend­ing cham­pi­onships the week­end be­fore.

“ It just spewed out and most of the class bought it.”

Last June, the school’s web­mas­ter and a for­mer Glebe stu­dent filmed Mr. Over­wijk per­form­ing the “ feat” for the class — the in­fa­mous video that is rapidly spread­ing across the net.

Most com­ments on var­i­ous sites showed amaze­ment and praised the teacher for what seemed like a dif­fi­cult feat; oth­ers were skep­ti­cal.

One poster on YouTube call­ing him­self many­di­nosaurs, and who iden­ti­fied him­self as a for­mer Glebe stu­dent, wrote yes­ter­day: “ It’s just been an on­go­ing joke for past few years. … there’s even a pic­ture of him in the year­book next to a cir­cle. But its not true.”

As for a real cir­cle- draw­ing com­pe­ti­tion, with all the pub­lic­ity he’s re­ceived, Mr. Over­wijk’s think­ing about start­ing one.

“ We’ll do it for real. Yeah, why not?” he asked. “ It’s pretty pop­u­lar, ap­par­ently.”


A YouTube video of Glebe math teacher Al Over­wijk, draw­ing a nearper­fect free­hand cir­cle in less than one sec­ond, has at­tracted lots of at­ten­tion at video- shar­ing web­sites.

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