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of the
April - May 2003
Math Cats
Writing Contest:

There were many fine entries in this contest. The judges had a very hard time deciding! The four winning entries are posted on this page, and the other finalists and honorable mention entries are posted on the next pages. We hope you'll read them all! (Last names are posted when parents provide permission.)

First Place - "A Straight Straight" - by Anastasia Pilato
Second Place (tie) -
          "A World Without Circles" - by Nicole K.
          "A Square World Without Circles" - poem by John M.
Third Place - "A World Without Circles" - by Hanna
Fourth Place - "A World Without Circles" - by Michael B.

Other Finalists

Honorable Mention

Who judged the contest?
We're helping a special friend of Math Cats, too!

* First Place
(winner of the handmade Math Cats Soma blocks):

A Straight Straight
by Anastasia Pilato
age 12, grade 7, St. Gregory's Academy for Girls, Laura Ann Pilato's class,
New London, Connecticut, U.S.

       One day Katherine Furrguson--the oldest math cat--woke up to a warm sunny day. But when she peered through her window, she could not make out where the sun was.
       When she went outside, she finally spotted it. But it was not the bright yellow orb she expected--it was a pentagon! It looked so strange that Kittie went back inside, where her little twin sisters Kristiana--Kissie--and Mellissa--Missie--were playing with blocks.
       But the sun was not the only strange thing that Kittie was to see that day. At lunch time, the dish that contained Kittie's rice was a square, and the twins' milk bowl did not have a single curve.
       In the afternoon, Kittie talked about her strange experiences of the day with her best friend Rosalind PurrCel. As she spoke, she noticed at a glance that Rosie's coat buttons were triangular.
       "And," Kittie concluded, "I have not seen a single circle all day!"
       "Circle?" questioned Rosie, distantly.
       "Yes," she repeated, "I have not seen any circles."
       "What is a circle?" was Rosie's inquiry.
       "Did you go to kindergarten?" exclaimed Kittie rudely, for she was becoming more frustrated by the minute.
       "Of course I did!" Rosie sounded hurt.
       "Sorry. But it seems as if I'm the only one who's ever heard of circles... They're a shape," Kittie explained, because Rosie was still looking quite perplexed.
       "Could you draw one for me?" asked Rosie.
       "Sure." was Kittie's reply.
       The cats walked inside, turning the doorknob--which was an octagon--and walking past the square vase upon the square coffee table.
       "Do you have a compass?" asked Kittie.
       "Yeah... I'll go get it."
       When Rosie returned, she was holding a compass--but not the kind that Kittie was expecting. It also happened to be rectangular.
       "No, I mean the kind that you use to draw circles... Oh yeah."
       So Kittie did the best she could drawing a freehand circle--with a square pen.
       "But it has no sides or angles," protested Rosie. "It can't be a shape. And besides, I've never seen one in my life."
       "Well, this is certainly strange. Since this morning, I haven't seen any circles either, but I sure have before today."
       At dinner they ate many-sided apples, and for dessert they had cubicle cupcakes. So by the time that her mom put her to bed, Kittie was feeling quite out-of-sorts, and pretty sick. Why were there no circles? Why was everything so... straight? Rosie didn't even know what a circle was! And the sun was a pentagon...
       When Kittie awoke the following morning, she walked sadly to the window, wondering if she would ever see a circle again. As she looked over the yard, she spotted in the corner, a ball, a circle! And the sun was circular! She felt like singing for joy, "The sun!" The doorknob was round, her plate was a circle, the vase on the table was artfully curved and circular. There were round apples, oranges, muffins and milk bottles to take to school, and circle bicycle tires to ride on, and circle pens and pencils to write with.
       At recess, Kittie was bouncing her tennis ball (which, of course, was round) and she mentioned to Rosie, "See, this is a circle! Yesterday you didn't know what a circle was. It was really weird."
       "What? I went to kindergarten, you know. And besides, everyone knows what a circle is."
       "But the sun was a pentagon, and the doorknob was an octagon, and..." It sounded stupid now that she put it into words.
       "Yesterday we played kickball with a round ball," said Tom, Rosie's younger brother, and another of the math cats.
       "Oh yeah," Kittie remembered.
       "It must have been a dream," suggested Tom's best friend Billy, sensibly.
       That night Kittie was glad to think that tomorrow there would be circles, and tomorrow everything would be normal. It had seemed so real...
       The next day, Kittie woke up and looked at her book. It was round. The room was round. The bed was triangular.
       "Oh no! Not RECTANGLES now!"


Jayne wins first prize: a one-of-a-kind handmade handpainted set of Soma blocks, created by Wendy Petti, the mother of all Math Cats. The blocks are made of 27 cubes, decorated with 27 white Math Cats. You can use the 7 Soma blocks to make lots and lots of 3D shapes (like a cube and a staircase and a bed and a throne). The first prize includes a booklet with lots of design ideas.

* Second Place (tie):

A World Without Circles
by Nicole K.
age 9, grade 4, George Martin School, Mrs. Kellogg's class,
Seekonk, Massachusetts, U.S.

       If there were no circles, what would a soccer ball be like? What shape would it be? Where on the ball would you kick it? If you think about all of these you would find that circles are an important thing in our life.
       Say without circles the soccer ball was square. Or maybe triangle. Which one??? It could be any one I guess? Yes. It probably could be. Let's say it was a triangle. If you kicked while you were playing and it went up in the air, it could hit someone. If one of the points hit the person it could hurt and/or kill them. It might seriously damage them or a part of them. Now think where on the ball would you kick it?
       Would you kick on a point? OOUCH! Wouldn't that hurt? Or maybe on a flat side? That would be hard. Now let's see what it would be like without any circles, and the soccer ball being like we said.
       It's a normal day. You wake up and put your clothes on. You can't get your shirt on. You touch your head....... OUCH! What is that pointy thing on your head? You look in the mirror and........ YOUR HEAD IS SQUARE!!!!!! You finally get your shirt on and run downstairs to your mom. Her head is square, too! "Mom! What's happening! Nothing including our heads is circle!" you scream.
       Mom, very worried also, explains that she watched the news this morning and a plane flew overhead the world that was jinxed and put a powder on the world so there are no more circles ANYWHERE!
       Rewind! There are no circles anywhere? you say. So then you remember you have a soccer game that day and you get ready.
       When you arrive at the field everyone's heads are different shapes. Finally you think to yourself that you don't have to worry about circles until.......... THE BALL!!!! THE BALL WAS TRIANGULAR!!!!! OK now this IS a time to worry. You think that when the referee realizes this the game will be cancelled. Phew! The game won't get cancelled you hear. FI-NAL-LY! you now can play.
       You start the game by kicking the ball to your teammate. WHOA! (Here is where those questions come in.) What if you kick the ball (triangle) and one of the points on it hits someone? They could get hurt. Well, first of all, where on the ball do you kick it? On a point? But wouldn't that hurt? Or maybe on a side? That'd be hard. That might even hurt too. It probably wouldn't go that far either. Finally you kick the ball.
       The game goes pretty well. Well, all except for that your friend Victoria gets a little cut from one of the points like you said, but it wasn't that bad. You end up winning 1 to 0 (probably because of the ball) and you go home to have lunch.
       Lunch is served on a square bowl. You have Spaghetti Os. Actually it is more like Spaghetti Squares. The spoon you eat with is square. For a drink you have water. It is in a square cup! Now you start thinking, how will you drink out of this! On a corner? Or maybe on a flat side? But then it would spill out on the sides. Oh! You realize it's no use! You decide you just won't drink. You eat your lunch and go on with your day.
       Now it's time to go to your friend's house for 1:15 p.m. When you arrive at her house she greets you at the door. Both of you burst out laughing at the sight of no circles. You laugh so hard about her heart shaped head and she laughs at yours. You have an awesome time (every minute you have something to laugh about that is noncircular.) and finally you go home at 4:00 p.m. Oh, how you wish you had CIRCLES BACK! You don't really like this day having NO circles!
       Your mom says you are going to town for fun, dinner, and shopping. You think this will make the day go by faster and maybe tomorrow there will be circles again! You say OK and get in the car to go. EVERYTHING there mostly is weird! You are glad that it is 8:00p.m. and you are finally going home to bed from all of this disaster.
       When you get home it is 8:30p.m. and you go right to bed.
       When you wake up the next day which is Sunday, you run to see if there are circles which there aren't. You are sooooo mad. But then again you are a little happy because you could see more funny things that aren't circlular. You go to church and then stay home all day. You think about what you could do about the circles but don't get any ideas. Finally, you go to bed and hope that there will be circles tomorrow.
       WHEN YOU WAKE UP THE NEXT DAY THERE ARE CIRCLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You run downstairs and before you you can say anything your mom tells you that a guy put a jinx on the world and they caught him in the night and made him give back the circles. She tells you though, they really didn't catch him yet - they just know he is in the U.S. They need help finding him. Your mom suggests you go and help.
       Since you and your friends are secret agents you take the day out of school and go to investigate. You, Ashley, and Victoria go to your headquarters, the CSI and ask them if you can go investigate. They say you have already been assigned that mission. You go investigate.
       Finally after a few weeks you are finished. You and your friends become famous all over the U.S. The news interviews you and you are put on T.V.
       You talk with the guy that stole all of the circles and straighten everything out. He is put in jail.
       The day after the man is caught you get up and your mom tells you to read the paper:


If it weren't for Ashley J., Nicole K., and Victoria H., we would have never caught the circle stealer. The CSI would specially like to thank them for all their hard work the past few weeks. Once again we could never have done it without them. For more information look down below.

Printed by: Your CSI headquarters

       Wow! You and your friends are on T.V, in the news, AND save the world. These were the best few weeks you think you think you ever had!

* Second Place (tie):

A Square World Without Circles
by John M.
age 11, grade 5, 13th and Union School, Mrs. Soltysik's class,
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.

If in this world we didn't have circles,
I would be a lonely man,
For without anything circular like a frying pan,
Yes I surely would be a very lonely man.
I would miss the buttons on my shoes,
And my good old bracelet I could not lose.
Without my straw I can't drink Sprite,
That would be a horrific sight.
And if I had a square head,
Yes, I'm sure I'd rather be dead.
I would miss my round beady eyes,
I would miss my good cherry pies.
I'd miss my frisbee all day long,
And I could not play any ping pong.
I would miss my big round ball,
And my cute round-headed doll.
I would miss my rubber wheel,
And I sure would hate to hear a square wheel squeal.
I'd miss my yellow tennis ball,
I'd miss my smiley stickers on the wall.
I'd miss my nostrils through and through,
Just as much as my purple balloon.
Just a world without circles I could not bear,
Yes, a world without circles would surely be square.

* Third Place:

A World Without Circles
by Hanna
age 11, grade 5, Mrs. Kellogg's class,
Massachusetts, U.S.

        I stared out the window daydreaming. We had a test about plants and how they worked. I hadn't even touched mine, so when the teacher told us we had 5 minutes left, I hurried to work. When I got to the essay I couldn't hold my rectangle pencil correctly. By the time I held it correctly we had to pass in the test. Great! Another failure for me! The square bell rang and so I hurried to my locker. It was hard to turn the square lock on my locker.
       It was time for lunch and I walked to the lunch room. The lunch lady handed me a triangle orange, a square cupcake, a sandwich, and a carton of milk all on a tray. I hated trying to peel triangle oranges. I sat down next to my best friends: Kristy, Lucy, Sam, and Chris. We were all in 6th grade and had been friends ever since we were little.
       They greeted me by saying, "Hey Sara!" I greeted them then began to eat. For once in a lifetime I succeeded in peeling the triangle orange!

*         *         *

       The rest of the day went fine and I passed most of the other tests in the different classes. As school ended I remembered that my mom was going to pick me up. So I waited outside. My mom soon pulled up in her car. It was an older type and had oval wheels while the newer cars had hexagon wheels. I jumped in and opened the window by pushing the triangle button. The triangle sun shined on my face. I looked ahead and saw that we were going to drive off the edge of the Earth! We would go into space since we were going fast and the earth was square! My mom, now noticing, put her foot on the brake. We slid and went off the edge of the Earth.... into space!

*         *         *

       We hung in space with no gravity. My mom called the HELP number(183-224-HELPNOW). Soon, a truck arrived to the area of Earth where we had driven off. They threw out a line and towed us in.
        I said, "Thank you so much!" to one of the men in the truck.
        He replied, "It's no problem. It happens every day!"
        So my mom and I got into our car and drove home. I remembered reading about this guy, Christopher Columbus, that went off the edge in 1492 in a big ship. He must have been crazy because he didn't think the Earth was square.
        We got home. I had a snack but couldn't get all of the chocolate milk mix from the triangle cup. Then I went outside to play baseball. It was hard to hit the oval baseball. Then I went in for dinner. I ate rectangle cooked carrots, chicken, bread, rice, and 2 (triangle and rectangle) cookies. I spilled milk all over the floor when I tried to drink on the flat side of the triangle cup. Then I did my homework and I was able to hold my pencil correctly. At last I got ready for bed. I jumped into bed, and fell asleep when my head hit the pillow. My busy day was over.

* Fourth Place:

A World Without Circles
by Michael B.
age 9, grade 3, George Martin School, Mrs. Kellogg's class,
Seekonk, Massachusetts, U.S.

        A world without circles would be very different and strange. There would be weird shaped cursive letters because almost every letter has circle in it. You would have to eat on a square plate with square cups and eat with only forks. There would be a world that looked like a diamond. We would look like we were made of squares, triangles, diamonds and a lot of other shapes. An o would look like an x. It would be very hard to roll a pencil on a desk or table. A car would drive slowly because of its square tires. The car would also have a zigzagged steering wheel.
        Sports would be very different. For instance, football would be called Grab the Unround Thing and Tackle the Person That Has It. Soccer would be called Kick the 3-D Pyramid. Baseball would be called Throw a Triangle and Try to Hit it. Hockey would be called Hit a Thing that looks like Wyoming.
        A world without circles would be very strange not to mention weird. I'm glad I don't live in that world.


These winning entries and the other finalists on the next page receive special large Math Cats certificates; the Honorable Mention entrants receive smaller certificates.


* Who judged the contest?

Wendy Petti, the mother of the Math Cats, with the assistance of Emily P., narrowed the entries down to the top 12 finalists and 15 other Honorable Mention entries. Then the top four winners were chosen by two children:

* Emily P., age 8 (who is pictured in the Math Crafts section)
* Alessandra Russo, age 8

* We're helping a special friend of Math Cats, too!

In addition to the first prize and the certificates for the top 4 winners, the other finalists, and the Honorable Mention winners, Wendy of Math Cats has made a donation to the IFOPA in honor of the kids who wrote the top three entries and in honor of Jasmin Floyd, one of our judges in the first two Math Cats writing contests. You can learn about this worthy cause on the main contest page.

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