Mathematics for the Information Age

Mathematics for the Information Age

February 12, 2013

So what's the best way to teach mathematics to the fast-paced, multi-tasking young people of the information age? Crunching numbers with pencil and paper and poring over the pages of conventional textbooks just doesn't cut it with this tech-savvy generation, so used to instant gratification!

Today's math teachers, for their part, are finding new ways to make the subject relevant and engaging for their pupils, ultimately helping them use mathematics to solve everyday problems. There are many ways to stimulate the children of the digital revolution but perhaps none capture the spirit of applied mathematics like Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge, which allows students to do rather than just read, memorize, or calculate.

The M3 Challenge is a free applied math competition for high school students that connects textbook and classroom learning to the "real world" by simulating the genuine and practical issues we face as a society and in our daily lives. Teachers who coach M3 Challenge participants realize the contest's potential to educate students in math modeling. And while teacher involvement is critical – they register and prepare teams of juniors and seniors – the responsibility of developing a viable solution paper by the end of Challenge day (and possibly winning a share of the $115,000 in total scholarships) falls squarely on the shoulders of the thousands of students who participate each year.

"You have to let the kids do their thing. I try not to direct, I try not to drive," Ellen Leblanc, an experienced coach from New Jersey's High Technology High School, shared. "Initially, and prior to the Challenge weekend, the students and I do a little bit of brainstorming: what could the Challenge problem be this year? If the question were "X," how would you approach it and what is important? Beyond that, you have to leave it up to the students," she said.

With so much technology at their fingertips, high schoolers in 2013 are used to doing more than just reading and answering textbook problems. Some have the benefit of being offered math modeling classes at their high school, some experience technology-based lessons in their classrooms, and others use the skills in their math toolboxes for extracurricular activities.

"This is really the only competition in the nation where kids come together and have this day-long charrette in a high-performance work team that is so similar to what we do in industry. To have that experience as a high school junior or senior really opens their eyes to what a career in a math-related field can be like. It is incredibly influential," explained Mary Redford, team coach from Nashoba Regional High School in Massachusetts.

Registration will come to a close on February 22 at 6:00 p.m. EST.

Registration must be completed by each team's teacher-coach. It is both quick and easy and there are no fees whatsoever.

About the Sponsor

The Moody's Foundation is a charitable foundation established by Moody's Corporation. Moody's is committed to supporting education, in particular the study of mathematics, finance and economics. The Foundation also funds specific initiatives in the areas of health and human services, arts and culture, civic and economic development programs. These programs are primarily located in New York City. Grants are also made in San Francisco, California, San Francisco, California; West Chester, Pennsylvania; and London, England.

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 $2.3 billion in 2011, employs approximately 6,000 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 28 countries. Further information is available at

About the Organizer

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an international society of more than 14,000 individual members, including applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members from more than 100 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

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