Moody’s Mega Math Challenge bolsters resources to help participants succeed

Moody’s Mega Math Challenge bolsters resources to help participants succeed

November 7, 2016

Registration for Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge opens nationwide today for juniors and seniors seeking a pinnacle high school experience and the chance to win a share of $150,000 in scholarships. Registration remains open until Friday, February 17, 2017, however teams are encouraged to register early to take full advantage of free resources available to help them prepare for and succeed in this unique, Internet-based math modeling competition.

M3 Challenge provides students with the opportunity to interpret and solve a relevant, real-world problem under a severe time constraint. Working in teams of 3-5, students must make predictions and provide insight about an important topic or issue, and then use math modeling to answer the questions posed, ultimately submitting a solution --- all within a continuous 14-hour timeframe during Challenge weekend! 

The M3 Challenge website contains a variety of tools to help participants get started, including Math Modeling: Getting Started and Getting Solutions, a downloadable handbook with flashcards written by M3 problem writers and judges, and Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Mathematical Modeling Education, a report that provides direction for teaching and understanding modeling. Other available resources include a video series that provides instruction about each component of the modeling process; sample problems, modeling scenarios, and a monthly practice problem; suggestions from past participating students, coaches, and judges; and archives featuring past Challenge problems, winning solutions, and final presentation videos. Upon registration, participants can also request a free one-year license for Wolfram’s Mathematica and/or MathWorks’ MATLAB software, and can access instructional resources provided by the companies as well. 

“The feedback we get from coaches and students indicates that, while they are enthusiastic about using math skills to solve open-ended problems, they often have no idea how to get started,” says Michelle Montgomery, project director for the M3 Challenge. “To combat this and level the playing field a bit, we’ve created and made easily accessible many tools designed to help all students prepare for and experience success---not just in the Challenge, but in college and beyond.”

Previous Challenge problems include quantifying issues such as: ranking US regions for their suitability for high speed rail; figuring out how to make school lunches affordable, nutritious, and delicious; evaluating national recycling strategies; selecting investment plans to maximize net profit of the stock market; and deciding whether higher education is “worth it.”

Research from the U.S. Department of Education shows that only 16% of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in STEM careers, yet by 2022, STEM jobs in the U.S. are expected to grow to 9 million. The goal of the Challenge comes from an aligned objective of The Moody’s Foundation and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics to increase the pipeline of students studying and pursuing careers in the increasingly important and rewarding fields of applied math, economics, and finance. “The M3 Challenge is a great way for students to experience the value and usefulness of their math classes and the essential process of math modeling. It helps them see that proficiency in STEM can lead to rewarding academic and career paths,” says Montgomery.

The 2017 M3 Challenge weekend begins at 12:00 noon EST on Friday, February 24, and ends at 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, February 27. Now in its 12th year, the competition is free and open to high school juniors and seniors throughout the United States and its territories, and those attending DoDEA schools. Learn more and register your team at http://m3challenge.siam.org/.

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