contents explore MicroWorlds math crafts art gallery attic grownup cats

other contests

back to main
contest page

of the
January - February 2006
Math Cats
Writing Contest:
a world without right angles

The contest was introduced like this:

What would our world be like if there were no right angles?? Use your imagination! We like writing that is lively and creative. Your entry could be written as a story,
a letter or journal entry, a poem, or an essay.

First Place    - "Right Angle Tangle" - poem and drawings by Margaret Thurston
Second Place - "No Right Angles?"  - poem by Marcus Bramlett
Third Place   - "An Asymmetrical Adventure"   - story by Madeline Pilato
Fourth Place  - "Staring at the Ceiling"   - essay by Kelsey Dreyer


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

* First Place:

"Right Angle Tangle"
by Margaret Thurston
age 10, grade 4, Park Road Elementary School, Ann Shelp's class, Pittsford, New York, U.S.

* Second Place:

"No Right Angles?"
by Marcus Bramlett
age 11, grade 5, Barrett Elementary School, Mrs. Duggan's class
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.

No right angles?
It's not fair!
How will I ever
Shave my hair?

No right angles?
Means round doors
No more corners
On the floors.

In my house
No stairs, but a slide
I will use it
To get outside

No right angles?
At my school
Nothing seems
To follow the rule

My desk is a circle
The window is round
Now I turn my smile

My school is now a pyramid
The lunch trays are triangles
My books are cylinders
They roll right off the tables

The sidewalks never end
Now the streets go round and round
People are getting crazy
Parking spaces cannot be found

Notebook paper is now an oval
There's not much room to write
The dice never land on a number
A sphere for dice is not right

No right angles?
It's so wrong!
I haven't seen a right angle
In so long.

* Third Place:

"An Asymmetrical Adventure"
by Madeline Pilato
age 11, grade 6, homeschooled, London, Connecticut, U.S.

      It was a fine spring day and a path of bright sunshine shone through the window; but was the window supposed to look like that? What should have been a perfect rectangle was not. The window was lopsided and if you looked out of the strange creation you viewed a very lopsided nation! All the buildings were falling over for lack of right angles and had to be supported by poles. But that was not all: for one, it was impossible to run, for your arms and legs must pass through a right angle.
      Such was the state of Loppsidania when Ginger, Whiskers, and their friend Sapphire stepped into this irregular world.
      Before we go any further the reader must be acquainted with how and why our friends were here. They had heard of the Island Loppsidania, and being on vacation, they decided to visit it. Oh what a surprise met their eyes when they saw the Island without right angles!
      The buildings falling over, the other cats running and walking in their strange manner, and carts driving by with the contents spilling out because they could not be contained in such an asymmetrical vehicle.
      "Wow, do you think we could do anything about this?" asked Ginger.
      "I don't know. The history of this place is pretty strange; nobody knows if it's true or not, and if it is then probably there isn't anything we could do," said Whiskers, as he licked his whiskers.
      "Yes," said Sapphire, "the story is rather queer, but don't even legends have a basis in fact?"
      "That's true, Sapphire," replied Ginger thoughtfully. "You know the story, so you better tell us."
      "All right. Well there was this cat, Marginini by name, and he decided that he wanted to make a house with no right angles, so he hired some builders and they got started.
      After the foundation was finished they did not know what to do next, so they asked Marginini, but he said to just keep on building. Now after the workers had got a little bit more done on the house it began to fall down, but Marginini told them to hold it up with poles. So at length the house was finished and Marginini, for reasons unknown, thought it was a good house and wanted to make a whole city of buildings without right angles. But here again he ran into a problem: was there enough land? After a long time he convinced the government to at least try his new house, but after a night of rolling around on uneven floors they refused to let him have any land to try out his idea.
      So Marginini went in search of some where to put his experiment into practice, and when he was about to give up his unfortunate idea he very unfortunately found out about an island he could sail to and claim. Fortunately he had no time to lose and could not make a ship with no right angles.
      When Marginini finally found the Island he claimed it and sailed home, where he picked up his family and some followers who thought his idea was a good one.
      So after awhile everyone had a house and they were all falling over and had to be supported by poles.
      Now there was a cat that had lived there before them, and she hated Marginini's lopsided nation as much as he disliked her perfect little rectangular cottage. So Marginini and his followers set fire to her house. Now some people say she was a witch and that she put a curse on them and the Island so that nothing could be a right angle, and that Marginini could see if he still liked The Island as much in a couple of years. And she christened the Island Loppsidania because it was such an unbalanced world."
      There was silence.
      "Well, I think we should try to help the Loppsidanians out; after all, the current cats might actually like right angles," suggested Ginger.
      That's a good idea; I think we should take a survey and see who wants right angles back," said Whiskers.
      Indeed his advice was good, but when they put the idea into practice they found out that only a few people vaguely remembered what a right angle was.
      "Well at least all the cats who know what a right angle is want them back," said Whiskers.
      "Yes, I think that we should teach as many cats as we can what a right angle is, and then if they agree we should try to bring them back." So thought Whiskers and Ginger, and so the next day the lessons began.

      "This is a right angle," said Ginger to her class the next morning, holding up a picture. "And my friends and I want to bring them back."
      And so the Math Cats taught the classes, and every one wanted the right angle to come back.
      So the Math Cats and the Loppsidanians set to work ripping down asymmetrical houses and replacing them with symmetrical ones. All the Loppsidanians were surprised at how quickly houses went up when the right angle was put into use.
      And all of Loppsidania learned that the right angle was the right angle to use.
      If there had really been a spell cast on Loppsidania or not we shall never find out, but it is certain that if there had, then the witch must have lifted the curse.
      And so Ginger, Whiskers, and Sapphire, finding that they had returned Loppsidania to its former glory, gave it a new name which is Symetricalus.
      And the Symetricalins highly approved. And our friends the Math Cats sailed home, where they told the story or Symetricalus to their friends.

* Fourth Place:

"Staring at the Ceiling"
by Kelsey Dreyer
age 12, grade 7, Ben Lippen School, Mr. Hoft's class
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.

      I bet you've never thought about a world without right angles before, have you? No? I didn't think so. I never did either until I heard this question. At first I was thinking, "Who cares" and "Like it would matter." Then I started thinking...
      I went through my everyday life... Get up first. Ok, then I take a shower. Wait! My shower has right angles. I guess it would be round or something. I wouldn't really like that. Then my towel would have to be rounded too, and my brush and straightner! Uh! I really wouldn't like that! You wouldn't even be able to brush your hair, or straighten it since the angles aren't straight! So, I'm already having a bad day, but then I put on my makeup. I can't even look in my mirror any more because it has angles! Also, a lot of my makeup has right angles so I couldn't wear them. Another thing, my bristles on my brushes have tiny white angles so my makeup wouldn't even go on right! Well, finally when I get ready for school, I eat a granola bar which is now curvey. Then I get in the car and go to school.
      When I get to school, it's a total nightmare! None of my books or binders function! I can't write because every letter and number (almost) has a right angle. Plus, so do paper, books, and lines. Now, I can't even learn, which to some of you it may be good, but it's really not.
      I decide I have to go somewhere else because school has no purpose any more... I decide to go to the mall because I love to shop. I walk into the mall and notice that all the doors and walls and tiles are all rounded now. I go inside a store to buy my pair of jeans I've been saving up for for 5 weeks, and a cute bracelet. I go in and I can't even find them! I ask the sales lady and she just laughs. Apparantly they've never heard of jeans before. I realize that jeans have right angles and I get really mad. So I just go to get my bracelet which I find out has right angles. I finally just decide to go get a nice cold drink, and then go home. I walk into the oddly shaped store and order a coke. Wow! It looks the same believe it or not, but then I realize that there's no ice! I throw my drink away and go home to just go to sleep. My bed wasn't even there! I just laid on the ground and stared at my new circle ceiling.
      Now, does that sound like a lot of fun to you? Well, not to me. A world without right angles would be a disaster! We couldn't even live. We would just all be in our rooms staring at the ceiling...

* Prizes

The first place prize is a Math Cats T-shirt. The first through fourth place entries receive large Math Cats certificates.

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

Wendy of Math Cats is making a donation to the IFOPA in honor of the first place winner and in honor of Jasmin Floyd, a young friend of Math Cats. You can learn about this worthy cause on the main contest page.

back to the main contest page

© copyright 2006 -   by Wendy Petti of Math Cats.   All Rights Reserved.