# High school girls proving a 2000-year-old theorem in a way considered impossible is a work of genius

Anyone who has studied geometry has read about the Pythagoras theorem, and mathematicians were pondering about this age-old equation until two high school students came along and explained it. Calcea Johnson and Ne'Kiya Jackson, who were high school seniors at that time at St. Mary's Academy in New Orleans, are the two mathematical prodigies that have proven the Pythagoras’ theorem by using trigonometry, per CBS News.

Back in December 2022, Jackson and Johnson participated in a math competition at their school, where they had a chance to win a cash prize of $500. The duo faced a bonus question at the end of the contest that prompted them to create a new proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. But there are more than 300 documented proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem using algebra and geometry but for 2,000 years, none had been provided using trigonometry and it had been considered impossible. The girls took up this challenge and dedicated the next two months to prove the theorem.

Michelle Blouin Williams, their math teacher who initiated the math contest revealed that she wasn't necessarily looking for someone to solve it but only sought some "ingenuity" from the students. Johnson and Jackson also tried to break their proof down into simple terms and have hilariously titled if the "Waffle Cone." "So to start the proof, we start with just a regular right triangle where the angle in the corner is 90°. The two angles are alpha and beta," Johnson started explaining. "Then what we do next is we draw a second congruent, which means they're equal in size. But then we start creating similar but smaller right triangles going in a pattern like this. And then it continues for infinity. And eventually, it creates this larger waffle cone shape."

Before the duo cracked the code, there was one other documented proof of the theorem using trigonometry. The girls' math teachers at St. Mary's ended up submitting their proofs to an American Mathematical Society conference in Atlanta in March 2023. Their accomplishment was cheered by the online community as well as the word spread quickly. They got a write-up in South Korea and a shout-out from former first lady Michelle Obama, as per the outlet.

According to PEOPLE, Johnson and Jackson enrolled in college back in 2023. The duo was honored during the Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans as part of AT&T’s Dream in Black programming, which focused on connecting the Black community to greater possibilities with the help of technology. “This is just all very shocking to me,” Johnson told the outlet. “I didn’t expect our work to go anywhere. Then all these people started picking it up and wanted to interview me and wanted me to go here and there. I’m just like I didn’t expect any of it.” Johnson took her next academic step toward studying environmental engineering at LSU Ogden Honors College, while Jackson was planning to major in pre-pharmacy chemistry at Xavier University.