Winners Named in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2010

April 12, 2010

Top teams are just weeks away from sharing $100,000 in scholarships

The 2010 census may just be getting started, but the judging in this year's Moody's Mega Math Challenge is almost complete. More than 530 teams of high school students submitted solutions to the problem, "Making Sense of the 2010 Census: To count or not to count, that is the question," and after undergoing an extensive judging process during the past month, papers submitted by the following six teams have been selected to contend for the top awards, which range from $2,500 to $20,000:

These top teams, whose papers have the distinction of being in the top one percent of all solutions submitted, will make formal presentations at Moody's Corporation headquarters in Manhattan on April 28, when the judges will learn the identities of the students and the schools they represent. Each team will have 20 minutes to present its solution paper and answer questions from the panel of judges, who will then deliberate one last time and rank the teams in the final winning order. Following this deliberation, The Moody's Foundation, which funds the Challenge, will announce the winners and award the scholarship prizes.

For the first time, an additional category of prizes will be awarded to teams whose papers were among the top 12 that underwent in-depth, specific discussions by judges, but missed making it into the top six. These six teams, listed below, will receive Finalist Team Prizes of $1,500 each for this very noteworthy distinction.

In addition, teams representing the following 31 schools will be awarded Honorable Mention Team Prizes of $1,000 each:

"I was very impressed with the significant progress that these high school students were able to make in addressing the important and complex mathematical questions related to the census -- the very same issues that will receive a great deal of attention in Washington and the state capitals during the coming year," said Lee Seitelman, professional consultant and Head Judge for the Challenge. "It is remarkable that they were able to accomplish so much work in just 14 hours."

This year's problem called for students to use their math know-how to evaluate U.S. Census Bureau figures and methods in order to make recommendations to Congress for undercount adjustment, the best method for apportioning the U.S. House of Representatives, and the fairest way to draw Congressional districts. For all aspects of the problem, teams were required to quantify their findings using mathematical modeling techniques, develop and defend their models, and justify their conclusions.

"The Challenge has a reputation for posing problems that are both timely and engaging and this year's topic is no exception," said Michelle Montgomery, Project Director. "That these young kids were able to achieve such a high level of mathematical sophistication in their solution papers is a testament to the quality of our high school students and their teachers."

Judging for the Challenge is rigorous, meticulous, and impartial. There are no passing grades and numerical scores are not assigned. Over five dozen Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians spent a combined 1,000+ hours in March and early April judging the competition before reaching a consensus on the 43 winning teams based on the creativity and quality of the papers' assumptions, math model, testing methodology, and summary.

"This year's Challenge problem was particularly wide ranging. Many of the teams reviewed and evaluated available analyses, and suggested modifications that would add value to current approaches; many also analyzed the implications of their changes," commented Challenge consultant and Director of Judging Ben Fusaro. "The most successful teams were those that developed models based on original ideas and those that considered unique ways to solve the census undercount and apportionment issues."

To see the 2010 Challenge problem visit http://m3challenge.siam.org/problem.

To see if your local high school participated in the M3 Challenge go to http://m3challenge.siam.org/pdf/2010_partic.pdf.

For more information on the Challenge, visit http://m3challenge.siam.org.

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Additional information about:

The Challenge
Now in its fifth year, Moody's Mega Math Challenge is an Internet-based math competition open to high school juniors and seniors living in the 18 states along the East Coast. It 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. Funded by The Moody's Foundation and organized by SIAM, it challenges students, working in teams of three to five, to solve an open-ended, realistic, applied math-modeling problem focused on a real-world issue in just 14 hours using only free and publicly available resources. This year, 531 teams participated in the competition, an increase of about 37% over last year. Scholarship prizes total $100,000 in 2010. Complete details, sample problems, and archives of previous winners and Challenge events are available at http://m3challenge.siam.org.

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), an essential component of the global capital markets, provides, credit ratings, research, tools, and analysis that contribute to 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 $1.8 billion in 2009, Moody's employs approximately 4,000 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 27 countries. Further information is available at www.moodys.com.

The Organizer
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, 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. It is an international society of over 13,000 applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners from 90 countries working in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes nearly 500 academic and corporate institutional members, SIAM provides many opportunities for students including regional sections and student chapters. Further information is available at www.siam.org.

Awards and Recognition

2009 ASAE Associations Advance America (AAA) Award of Excellence

2008 Excellence Award, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP)

2006 Graphic Design USA's American Inhouse Design Award


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