“What’s calculus?” Gwyn asked over dinner. Both Emily and I took calculus in high school but neither of us could answer, me because I’d promptly forgotten everything once I took the AP test, and Emily because how do you explain calculus to a ten-year-old? “It has to do with measuring amounts that change over time, like a car picking up speed,” Emily said. “Maybe?”

A week later the three of us were at church, about to serve a free meal, when we struck up a conversation with our pastor. Topics leapt from Gwyn’s deep skepticism about the existence of God to her passion for math. Paula said to Gwyn, “My relationship with math stopped growing when I was about your age.” Continue reading