Two New Orleans High School Students Solve Math Puzzle Thought to be impossible for 2,000 years

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Data News Staff Edited Report When she started a math contest with a bonus question challenging students to create a new proof for the Pythagorean theorem using trigonometry, teacher Michelle Blouin Williams didn’t expect anyone to complete the task. “I was just looking for some ingenuity,” she said, per CBS News. Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson, however, blew Williams’ expectations out of the water by figuring it out in 2023. The teens were seniors at St. Mary’s Academy in New Orleans, a prestigious Catholic School for girls which has maintained a 100% acceptance rate to colleges and 100% graduation rate for 17 years, CBS News reported. Recently, they appeared in an episode of CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday to talk about their achievement. How did the teens find the answer? While they were motivated initially by the math competition’s $500 prize, an internal drive to finish what they started manifested when they reached the tricky bonus question. For two months, the high school seniors worked tirelessly to finish their proof. CeCe Johnson, Calcea’s mother, told “60 Minutes,” “It was pages and pages and pages of, like, over 20 or 30 pages for this one problem.” Her father, Cal Johnson,...