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Opportunities and job potential fuel support of science, tech, and math education

Moody’s Mega Math Challenge underscores the message

DECEMBER 3, 2013

Philadelphia, PA--Recent bipartisan support for math and science education and research in the United States should be encouraging news for the country's younger generation. Students who show their support of and enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) by choosing majors and careers in these areas should be especially pleased to hear of these discussions in Congress.

Programs like Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge, a math modeling competition for high school juniors and seniors, remind us that America's youth can be passionate about STEM. By giving participants a Challenge problem that explores a socially-charged topic, such as addressing the efficiency of ethanol as a biofuel source using math and computational science, the M3 Challenge not only helps get students excited about STEM, it often inspires them to pursue majors and careers in these essential areas.

While some believe that one path to success in the U.S. economy is a degree in math, science, or technology, students' hesitant attitudes toward STEM may keep them away. Proponents for STEM – whether educators, parents, or scientists lobbying for more research funding – remain a key component in continuing to shift the mindset of America's young population to realize the value of a strong foundation in an applied field.

"The mission of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the organizing society of the Challenge, is to promote mathematics and its application. While our core membership is composed of people who do research or use research in applied mathematics and computing, The Moody's Foundation funding of the M3 Challenge lets us reach the younger generation which is another important audience to have in support of math and science," said James Crowley, executive director of SIAM.

A quarter of the nearly 6,000 students surveyed in March 2013 reported that their participation in the competition motivated them to pursue a major or career in math or a similar discipline--and this is in addition to half of the 6,000 students who already intended to do so.

"The Challenge attracts students who already enjoy mathematics, and what's really rewarding each year is to see its positive influence on those who are uncertain about pursuing the subject. Hearing from the students who feel more strongly about STEM after their participation--whether in person or through surveys or by e-mail--reassures us that the Challenge helps students to see math as a viable and exciting profession," Project Director Michelle Montgomery remarked on the success of the program.

Free and available to high school juniors and seniors in 45 states and Washington, D.C., the M3 Challenge puts teams of students to the task of solving a real-world issue in just 14 hours using math modeling and analysis. The problem is entirely unknown until students download it the morning of their scheduled day during Challenge weekend--either March 8 or 9. They must submit a solution paper by 9 p.m. the same night. Teams with the best solutions will receive scholarship prizes totaling $125,000. Registration for the 2014 Challenge is open until February 28, 2014 at http://m3challenge.siam.org/participate/regform.php.

Since its beginnings in 2006, the annual M3 Challenge has shown applied math as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society. The Challenge seeks to encourage youth to use computational tools and techniques not routinely encountered in a math or science classroom.

Teachers may visit http://www.m3challenge.siam.org any time before February 28 to register their teams of three to five students (up to two per school).

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About the Sponsor
The Moody's Foundation, a charitable foundation established by Moody's Corporation, is committed to supporting education, in particular the study of mathematics, finance and economics. The Foundation also funds specific initiatives in the areas of global economic development, microfinance, civic, health and human services as well as arts and cultural programs. The Foundation supports programs located in select metropolitan areas in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world.

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 offers leading-edge software, advisory services and research for credit and economic analysis and financial risk management. The Corporation, which reported revenue of $2.7 billion in 2012, employs approximately 7,000 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, Pennsylvania, is an international society of over 14,000 individual members, including applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members from 85 countries are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes nearly 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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