760 students will compete this weekend for $65,000 in scholarships in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

760 students will compete this weekend for $65,000 in scholarships in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

February 28, 2007

This weekend, March 3-4, more than 170 teams comprised of 760 eleventh and twelfth graders from the New York City metropolitan area will compete in Moody's Mega Math Challenge.

Team members will gather in schools, libraries, kitchens, basements – the location of their choice – apart or together. They will work on a realistic math modeling problem that they will be able to access beginning at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of their chosen weekend "work day." Using any inanimate sources of information to help them, they will have until 9:00 p.m. on that day to research the problem, formulate assumptions, develop and test a model, analyze their findings, and summarize their response in a solution paper.

Why would teenagers get up before dawn on a weekend morning and spend up to 14 hours poring over facts and figures? Perhaps because scholarship prizes ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 will be awarded to the 11 top teams!

Judging for Moody's Mega Math Challenge is blind, with teams identified to judges only by their unique team number. The judging occurs in three stages: first is a triage phase in which approximately two-thirds of the solution paper submissions are eliminated from consideration; the second phase further calibrates the papers, with judges arriving at and ranking the top 11 papers. The third and final phase of judging involves presentations by the top six teams at the Moody's Corporate Headquarters in Manhattan. Presentations, followed immediately by an awards ceremony, will take place on Wednesday, April 18.

The Moody's Foundation, based in New York City, sponsors all of the scholarship prizes (totaling $65,000), as well as the promotion and administration of the contest and the intense judging process. The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, headquartered in Philadelphia, is the organizer of the challenge. Together, they share the goal and mission of motivating high school students to think about solving real world problems using applied mathematics. Based on testimonials from last year's coaches and students, it appears that they are achieving these goals.


"The Challenge has had a great influence on my future career decisions. Prior to the challenge I was a declared history major because of my love of that subject. Through this challenge I more fully realize the practical applications of math in the "real world." The subject of the first challenge piqued my interest in the field of business. I looked more in-depth to the field of economics which, while a social science, does involve math, and have decided to declare it my double major! The challenge has broadened my horizons and allowed me to see the benefits of a math oriented-major. The generosity of Moody's has eased the financial burden for my family and allowed me to concentrate on my undergraduate major."
– William Pugh, 2006 team member, Immaculata High School, Somerville, New Jersey

"I can confidently say that the challenge had not only an effect on our four students, but indirectly on all the students in the school. As a department, it made us think a lot about meaningful math instruction and learning. The problem was open-ended, and there was nothing they had to know or have memorized. It was more about solving problems, which is something we should do more of. The competition helped us, as educators, to remember that. Our school principal often used them as an example of good learning in school meetings or in talks to the PTA. In short, we loved everything about the way the competition was set up. We are involved in many things at Staples, but this has become one of our favorite activities to pursue. Admittedly, the prize money did get our attention and did a lot to spur interest initially."
– Bill Walsh, 2006 team coach, Staples High School, Fairfield, Connecticut

"Going to the final round of the M3 Challenge was definitely one of the highlights of my senior year. Although I had already been interested in math before participating in the competition, the problem presented by Moody's was the first truly practical question I ever loosed my mathematical toolbox on, and it showed me that the applicability of math extends far beyond the abstractions that I, until then, had spent most of my time working with.…Whatever I end up doing, …I'm sure that there will be math involved in some way or the other."
– Amol Jain, 2006 team member, Herricks High School, New Hyde Park, New York

"My students from last year (two teams of three students each) greatly enjoyed the experience. Some of them are now seniors and will likely participate again. Obviously those who participate already have an interest in math and its applications. The Challenge is a wonderful opportunity to see 'math in action.' I thank you for making this possible for our students."
– Peter Kaufmann, 2006 team coach, Saddle Brook High School, Saddle Brook, New Jersey

Last year's teams worked on Solving the Social Security Stalemate.The top teams from Moody's Mega Math Challenge 2006 were:

Staples High School, Westport, CT (Summa Cum Laude Team Prize: $20,000)
Immaculata High School, Somerville, NJ (Magna Cum Laude Team Prize: $15,000)
Herricks High School, New Hyde Park, NY (Cum Laude Team Prize: $10,000)
Great Neck North High School, Great Neck, NY (Meritorious Team Prize: $7,500)
Manalapan High School, Manalapan, NJ (Exemplary Team Prize: $5,000)
High Technology High School, Lincroft, NJ (First Honorable Mention Team Prize: $2,500)
McNair Academic High School, Jersey City, NJ (Honorable Mention Team Prize: $1,000)
Northport High School, Northport, NY (Honorable Mention Team Prize: $1,000)
Tappan Zee High School, Orangeburg, NY (Honorable Mention Team Prize: $1,000)
Manalapan High School, Manalapan, NJ (Honorable Mention Team Prize: $1,000)
New Providence High School, New Providence, NJ (Honorable Mention Team Prize: $1,000)


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