Two Young Black Girls Find Trigonometric Proof Of The Pythagorean Theorem

Written by on May 7, 2024

Two young Black high school students, Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson from St. Mary’s Academy in New Orleans, have achieved a groundbreaking mathematical feat by finding a trigonometric proof of the Pythagorean Theorem—a task considered impossible for over 2,000 years. This theorem, fundamental in geometry, states that in a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse (c²) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides (a² + b²). The challenge to prove this theorem using trigonometry was posed by their math teacher, Michelle Blouin Williams, who offered a $500 reward for a new proof, seeking to inspire creativity and ingenuity among her students.


After two months of dedicated work, Johnson and Jackson succeeded where many believed no solution existed. They developed their proof, which they whimsically named the “Waffle Cone,” utilizing a unique approach involving congruent triangles and a pattern of progressively smaller right triangles forming a larger “waffle cone” shape. This achievement not only demonstrates their exceptional skill but also places them in a rare group of individuals who have contributed a new proof to this ancient mathematical principle. Their success underscores the potential every student holds when encouraged and supported in an educational environment like St. Mary’s Academy, which promotes high standards and opportunities for all its students.

Source: BET

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