Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson have just made mathematical history. The brilliant high school seniors made an impossible math discovery that has evaded mathematicians for 2,000 years. 

The St. Mary’s Academy students gave a presentation at the American Mathematical Society’s Annual Southeastern Conference. During the conference, the teens proved the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry without circular logic. As we mentioned, many mathematicians have been trying to do this for nearly 2,000 years and have been unsuccessful, until now!


Making the moment even more special, Calcea and Ne’Kiya were the only high schoolers in the room.

“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,” Calcea said in an interview with New Orleans’s CBS 4WWL. “A lot of times you see this stuff, you don’t see kids like us doing it.”

Pythagorean Theorem. CANVA.COM

The high school math unit on the Pythagorean Theorem truly could be the source of nightmares for some. Created by Pythagoras of Samos, who was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher, polymath and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism, the theorem, according to Khan Academy, is a cornerstone of math that helps us find the missing side length of a right triangle.

In a right triangle with sides A, B, and hypotenuse C, the theorem states that A² + B² = C². The hypotenuse is the longest side, opposite the right angle.

By using trigonometry to prove Pythagoras’ Theorem is known as circular logic. What the girls proved, should not have be able to be proved itself.

So, just how did the girls do it? Well, they both say that it all started with the support of their teachers at St. Mary’s challenging them to go beyond what seemed impossible.

“Our slogan is ‘No Excellence Without Hard Labor.’ So, they definitely push us,” Calcea said of her teachers.

Ne’Kiya added, “We have really great teachers.”

Calcea and Ne’Kiya will speak to CBS‘s Bill Whitaker in greater detail about just how they did it on 60 Minutes this Sunday!

We wouldn’t be surprised if MENSA is already eyeing these two mathematical geniuses for potential addition to their exclusive club!

Congratulations, Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson on making history. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for the two of you!


Photo: 60 Minutes Instagram; CBS 4WWL

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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