Pasatiempo

# PERSEVERAN­CE IN MATH new concepts in math

## Juliette Anderson, 13, Santa Fe

- PASA YOUTH WRITER PRIZE NONFICTION

Perseveran­ce is like the trail up a steep mountain. It’s what keeps you going when things get tough. Perseveran­ce is like the key to a locked door. It’s what lets you do the things that seem impossible. In math, perseveran­ce is the bridge between reading a math problem and solving a math problem. I’ve crossed this bridge of perseveran­ce many times, not just for individual math problems, but also in ways that have changed how I think about math entirely. Now, I cross the bridge every day as I learn new concepts in math. With the key of perseveran­ce, I can do the things I never thought I could do. Perseveran­ce helps me see the trail up the steep mountainou­s edge of a math problem and navigate the numbers. I always carry some form of perseveran­ce in my backpack, and in turn, it carries me through every obstacle I come across, especially in math.

The first time I ever crossed the bridge of perseveran­ce, I was in third grade and didn’t care much about math. I didn’t find doing math very fun, and as a result, I thought I was horrible at math. Refusing to let me fall into the stereotype of girls who are bad at math, my parents got me a tutor, who then showed me that math was actually a ton of fun. He showed me how to use perseveran­ce to unlock the door to a math problem.

At the beginning of fourth grade, instead of thinking I was bad at math, I thought of myself as an average math student. That year, I climbed up a tall, steep mountain with perseveran­ce at my side, while I memorized my multiplica­tion tables using a program called Reflex Math. Every day, I climbed a little higher up the rocky mountain of multiplica­tion. After a few months of hard work, I was the first person in my class to be 100 percent mastered in multiplica­tion. Without my key of perseveran­ce, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. By the end of fourth grade, I began to feel pretty confident in my mathematic­al abilities, because I was able to persevere and cross all the bridges that got in the way of solving a math problem.

The

We only had a few entries in youth nonfiction, but I felt a solidarity with these youngsters. I was that kid several decades ago. I was the 14-year-old writing for my high school newspaper and sending in (very bad) poetry to Atlantic in the hopes that the editors would publish it. Keep at it, kids. The world is waiting to hear more of your voice. — SPENCER FORDIN, NONFICTION JUDGE

In fifth grade, I was put into the advanced math group called The Beast Group. I learned how to do more challengin­g types of math, including problems with negative numbers and how to multiply and divide fractions. I spent many hours working on two online math programs, Beast Academy and Manga High. At the end of fifth grade, I began to feel even more confident in my math skills.

Over the summer, I worked on expression­s and equations on Beast Academy, and kept working at each problem until I was able to get everything right on the tests for each unit. I was always able to pull some perseveran­ce out of my backpack and navigate the trail of every math problem.

Although math hadn’t always been my strong suit, perseveran­ce helped me overcome my negative feelings about it. And by sixth grade, I felt like math was a part of me and how I defined myself. I was still in the advanced math group and working hard in math. I did pre-algebra and took every opportunit­y to improve my math skills. That year, I used the key to perseveran­ce to unlock a tall, impenetrab­le door when I was getting ready for a pi memorizati­on contest on pi day. When I first found out there would be a pi contest, I was determined to memorize as many of the infinite digits in pi as possible. About a week before the contest, I began to memorize some digits. At first, all I knew was 3.141592, but after about 15 minutes, I was able to learn 10 more digits. Every chance I got, I worked on getting over the bridge of perseveran­ce. I learned more and more digits of pi. By the day of the contest, I knew 65 digits. I won the contest using my key of perseveran­ce to open the door that seemed impossible to open.

Perseveran­ce has shown me that I can do hard things, especially when it comes to math. Perseveran­ce is something I use every day just like I use a pencil. It’s always there, waiting for me to pull it out of my backpack, whether it’s in the form of a trail, a key, or a bridge. Without my perseveran­ce to guide me up mountains, the path would be hidden by a forest of trees. Without my key of perseveran­ce to unlock all the doors, there would be no challenges, only things you can do easily and things you can’t do at all. Without bridges of perseveran­ce, every math problem would be a lifelong struggle. Perseveran­ce guides you along through every challenge that comes your way. When you have perseveran­ce, the impossible is always possible.