What is your favorite way to spend a beautiful, sunny Saturday? How about 14 hours applying problem solving skills and math formulas to a health and education issue?
A BCHS team comprised of seniors and team leaders Megan Anderson and Forrest Elledge, and juniors Summer McCray, Ethan Rivest and Hannah Rodgers, gave up half their weekend on Saturday, March 8 to compete in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge (M3). The Challenge is sponsored by the Moody’s Foundation, a charitable organization established by Moody’s Corporation. Moody’s is committed to supporting education, in particular the study of mathematics, finance and economics.
This year’s problem required students to create a model computing caloric needs based on student attributes. Team members worked together to write a paper detailing student nutritional needs and a school lunch plan which would satisfy the preferences of the competing school lunch program’s major stakeholders.
The students met at BCHS at 6:45 a.m. Saturday morning to await the downloading of the problem. They were supported by family members who brought snacks and meals throughout the day, plus Dr. Dorman Landtroop and Leigh Ann Hays, who facilitated the event at BCHS.
The organizer of the event is the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) headquartered in Philadelphia, an international society comprised of applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. The M3 poses a relevant and ambitious applied math problem — this year to thousands of high school students in 29 eastern U.S.
The students did not have a clue what the problem topic would be or what they would be asked to do until 7 a.m. on Challenge day. This is the spirit of the M3 Challenge, a free, Internet-based math competition that will award $115,000 in scholarship prizes this year. Students gathered to research, gather, compute and ultimately solve a practical “real-world” problem in just 14 hours.
Panels of PhD-level applied mathematicians serve as judges in the three rounds of judging. Coaches and teams will be notified in April of the judging results. Teams selected for the top six prizes are required to present their papers at the confirmation (third) judging round in Manhattan to determine final rank-order of those papers.
For further information about the challenge, please visit www.siam.org.
By Leigh Hays
BCHS math department