High school students tackle real-world issues using math

November 2, 2009


Registration now open for 2010 competition

Want to know if the stimulus act will work or whether ethanol is the right choice for U.S. energy independence? Need advice on how to beat Wall Street? If so, you may want to consult a high school student! These are topics that have been tackled in past Moody's Mega Math Challenge competitions, where teams of students are given 14 hours to solve an open-ended, realistic, applied math-modeling problem focused on real-world issues, and are able to use any free, publicly available, and inanimate sources of information to help them.

Registration is now open for the 2010 M3 Challenge which will be held during the weekend of March 6-7. The Challenge has expanded this year to include high schools along the entire East Coast, from Maine to Florida. Scholarship prizes have also increased---$100,000 will be awarded in 2010. There are no entrance or participation fees and each high school may enter up to two teams of three to five students each.

"One of the best things about the Challenge was coming together and putting our minds to the task," said Tracy Kong, a member of the 2009 Fifth Place Team from West-Windsor Plainsboro High School North in Plainsboro, New Jersey. "Coordinating everything and finding a solution within 14 hours might seem like a long time, but given the magnitude of the problem, it went by quickly."

Since 2006, over 4,000 high school juniors and seniors on more than 900 teams have participated in the Challenge and winners have received $275,000 in scholarship prizes for their applied mathematical solutions to complex, real-world problems. The winning teams in the 2009 M3 Challenge took home $80,000 in scholarship prizes for their efforts.

"The Challenge experience has given each student not just rewarding memories, but an invaluable opportunity to grow as individuals. This, to me, should be the goal of any program and speaks volumes about the worthiness of this contest," said Ted Hanes, coach of the 2009 Runner Up Team from Elk County Catholic High School in St. Marys, Pennsylvania.

Each year's topic is entirely unknown until teams download the problem at 7:00 a.m. on their selected Challenge day. They have until 9:00 p.m. that same night to research the problem, formulate assumptions, develop and test a model, analyze their findings, and summarize their response in a solution paper, which they upload to the Challenge website. The goal of this annual and entirely Internet-based Challenge is to increase interest in and encourage high school students to pursue studies and careers in applied mathematics, economics, and finance.

"We have seen all types and sizes of schools have success in this competition---large and small, public and private, charter and magnet, independent and parochial---no high school should hesitate to participate," said Michelle Montgomery, M3 Challenge Project Director. "Student team members have told us that the Challenge has helped build skills like team building, time management, and leadership, while at the same time increasing their interest in applied mathematics, finance, and economics."

Moody's Mega Math 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. The Challenge is funded by The Moody's Foundation and organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

Complete information on Moody's Mega Math Challenge 2010 can be found at http://m3challenge.siam.org. Register your team through the "participate" link.

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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 is an essential component of the global capital markets, providing credit ratings, research, tools and analysis that contribute to transparent and integrated financial markets. Moody's Corporation (NYSE: MCO) is the parent company of Moody's Investors Service, which provides credit ratings and research covering debt instruments and securities, and Moody's Analytics, which encompasses the growing array of Moody's non-ratings businesses including risk management software for financial institutions, quantitative credit analysis tools, economic research and data services, data and analytical tools for the structured finance market, and training and other professional services. The Corporation, which reported revenue of $1.8 billion in 2008, employs approximately 3,900 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 29 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 12,000 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 almost 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.


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