High school students' paper published in prestigious college math journal

January 15, 2009

M3 Challenge Champions' work highlighted

A paper written by four students from High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey, entitled Ethanol: Not All It Seems To Be has been published in the January 2009 issue of The Mathematical Association of America's College Mathematics Journal. The paper, which was the winning submission in the 2008 Moody's Mega Math Challenge, is the first M3 Challenge entry to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. It was submitted to the Internet-based applied math competition last March by Afanasiy Yermakov and Jason Zukus, current seniors at High Technology High School, Tom Jackson, now a freshman at Cornell University, and Kelly Roache, currently a freshman at Princeton University. Coached by their math teacher Dr. Raymond Eng, the students shared $20,000 in scholarship prizes for their efforts.

The paper, which was researched and written in less than 14 hours per contest rules, concluded that, in addition to the negative economic and environmental implications of replacing gasoline with ethanol, the plan would not be cost effective until oil prices reached over $233 per barrel. The students also found that corn-derived ethanol might not be the best alternative form of energy, suggesting that nuclear power may actually be a better choice for attaining national energy independence. The paper can be accessed at http://www.maa.org/pubs/cmj47.pdf.

Over 250 teams from lower New Hampshire to Wilmington, Delaware, submitted viable solutions to the 2008 Challenge problem, Energy Independence Meets the Law of Unintended Consequences. Student teams were required to address issues associated with increased corn-derived ethanol production and fuel substitution and relate these matters to dramatic and unanticipated rises in farm commodity pricing, the future of food supplies in developing nations, the effect on carbon dioxide emissions, and the cost-effectiveness of producing ethanol. Teams had 14 hours to quantify these concerns using mathematical-modeling techniques, develop and defend their models and justify their conclusions. Judging for Moody's Mega Math Challenge is blind, with judges knowing teams only by their team ID number until the final round of judging. In 2008, eleven teams were awarded scholarship prizes totaling $65,000.

The Challenge is an Internet-based applied mathematics competition that requires student teams to solve an open-ended, realistic, challenging modeling problem focused on real-world issues. The Moody's Foundation initiated and provides the funding for the Challenge; the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) organizes and administers the contest. "Our goal, and the goal of the competition, is to motivate high school students to think about solving real-world problems using applied mathematics," said Frances G. Laserson, President, The Moody's Foundation. "We want to increase students' interest in pursuing studies and careers related to math, economics, and finance." In 2009, the Challenge is open to high schools from all New England and Mid-Atlantic states and will award $80,000 in scholarship prizes.

Published by The Mathematical Association of America, The College Mathematics Journal is designed to enhance classroom learning and stimulate thinking regarding undergraduate mathematics. It publishes articles, short Classroom Capsules, problems, solutions, media reviews and other pieces. All are aimed at the college mathematics curriculum with emphasis on topics taught in the first two years. More information can be found at http://www.maa.org/pubs/cmj.html.

For more information on the Challenge including photo galleries and webcasts of the presentations, visit http://m3challenge.siam.org.

# # #

About the Challenge
The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool, as a viable and exciting profession, and as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society. Scholarship prizes total $80,000. The Challenge is entirely Internet-based and there are no entrance or participation fees. Each high school may enter up to two teams of three to five students each. Students choose which day they wish to work on Challenge weekend and have 14 hours to solve an open-ended, realistic, applied math-modeling problem focused on real-world issues. Teams can work from any location they choose and can use any free and publicly available resources, but they may not discuss any aspect of the problem with, or seek help from, their coach or anyone other than their teammates. Complete details, sample problems, and archives of previous winners and Challenge events are available at http://m3challenge.siam.org.

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) awarded Moody's Corporation a 2008 Excellence Award for Moody's Mega Math Challenge, citing the company's "sophisticated giving program that encourages students to develop a passion for mathematics, economics, and finance."

About the Sponsor
The Moody's Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting a variety of nonprofit education, health and human services, civic, and arts and culture programs. Established by Moody's Corporation in 2001, the Foundation's primary area of giving is secondary and higher education with a focus on mathematics, economics and finance. Further information is available at http://philanthropy.moodys.com.

Moody's Corporation (NYSE: MCO), an essential component of the global capital markets, provides credit ratings, research, tools and analysis that contribute to stable, transparent and integrated financial markets. Moody's Corporation is the parent company of Moody's Investors Service and Moody's Analytics, encompassing Moody's non-ratings businesses. With revenues of $2.3 billion in 2007, Moody's employs approximately 3,600 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 27 countries. Further information is available at www.moodys.com.

About the Organizer
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, is an international society of over 11,000 individual members. These include applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners from 85 countries in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes more than 500 academic and corporate institutional members, serves and advances the disciplines of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a variety of books and prestigious peer-reviewed research journals, by conducting conferences, and by hosting activity groups in various areas of mathematics. SIAM provides many opportunities for students including regional sections and student chapters. Further information is available at www.siam.org.


Renew SIAM · Contact Us · Site Map · Join SIAM · My Account
Facebook Twitter Youtube