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New Orleans teenagers Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson contributed to mathematical advancement by sharing their findings on a conundrum that’s stumped mathematicians for over 2,000 years.

Johnson and Jackson, seniors at St. Mary’s Academy, successfully proved Pythagorean theorem through trigonometry, but without circular logic, during a presentation at the American Mathematical Society’s Annual Southeastern Conference, according to 4WWL.

The students’ presentation, “An Impossible Proof of Pythagoras,” went down March 18 during a session at the math conference. The exceptional teens were the only high schoolers in the room when they presented their findings, 4WWL detailed.

The Pythagorean theorem is a high school education staple that states, “the sum of the squares on the legs of a right triangle is equal to the square on the hypotenuse,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. In algebraic terms, it’s written: a2 + b2 = c2.


Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson On Their Pythagorean Theorem Breakthrough

“It’s really an unparalleled feeling, honestly, because there’s just nothing like being able to do something that people don’t think young people can do,” said Johnson. “You don’t see kids like us doing this.”

Both young women emphasized the importance of their educators. “Our slogan is ‘No Excellence Without Hard Labor.’ So, they definitely push that,” Johnson said of St. Mary’s Academy.

“We have really great teachers,” added Jackson.


The teens’ presentation hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, but it adds to “similar claims” made by other academics, states Insider.

Johnson and Jackson plan to graduate this spring and then head to college — pursuing professions in environmental engineering and biochemistry. The two have not disclosed where they’re continuing their studies, but we wish their bright futures the best.

The duo’s findings are significant, as Black people are still severely underrepresented in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields. Pew Research’s analysis of federal employment and education data states that “Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to earn degrees in STEM than other degree fields, and they continue to make up a lower share of STEM graduates relative to their share of the adult population.”

RELATED CONTENT: “Alena Wicker: 12-Year-Old #BlackGirlMagic Maker Talks Her Journey To College”

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