Students from Manalapan High School take top prizes in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2007

Students from Manalapan High School take top prizes in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2007

April 19, 2007

On Wednesday, April 18, at the Down Town Association in New York City, The Moody's Foundation awarded a team of students from Manalapan High School with the first-place Summa Cum Laude Team Prize of $20,000 in the second annual Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge…immediately after it awarded a team of students from the same high school with the second-place Magna Cum Laude Team Prize of $15,000! In addition to the two teams from Manalapan High School, four other schools' teams were awarded scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 and five honorable mention prizes of $1,000 per team were announced. Before the evening was over, a total of $60,000 in scholarships was handed out to the top six teams.

The M3 Challenge is an Internet-based applied mathematics competition that requires students to solve an open-ended, realistic, challenging modeling problem focused on real-world issues, in one day. This year's problem, titled "Beat the Street!" required participants to build and test a model for selecting investments. The teams were asked to maximize net profit from the stock market and in effect beat Wall Street using applied mathematics and modeling techniques. "I was caught a little off guard by the topic since last year had to do with Social Security, but once we started working on the problem I started to like it more," said Naiim Ali, a student on Manalapan's first-place team. Ali added that his team downloaded the problem as soon it was available at 7:00 a.m. and worked the entire 14-hour period, uploading their solution at 8:59 p.m., just one minute before the deadline.

Ali, along with Franklin Tong and Caleb Tseng, were members of Manalapan's 2006 Exemplary prizewinning (fifth-place) team coached by Stephanie Pepper, whose team took second place this year. "We had a lot of students interested in participating in the Challenge," said Pepper. "We had to draw names from a hat to select 10 seniors to make up the two teams."

Jessy Friedman, coach of the first-place Manalapan team was ecstatic: "I am so proud of these kids. The whole contest, with SIAM and Moody's and the applied math and the scholarships, is a wonderful venue for kids who have any proficiency in math. It shows them you really can apply math everywhere-- like the Social Security problem last year and the stock market problem this year. If you do a little research and come up with a model you can solve anything. This competition is the perfect answer for students who ask, ‘when am I ever going to use math in real life?'"

Members of the top six teams were required to present their winning solutions to a panel of four professional applied mathematicians at the Moody's Corporation headquarters on Wednesday. Judging of the Challenge features a rigorous, intense process by professional and Ph.D.-holding applied mathematicians and modelers. It includes multiple readings of each paper and convergence to a tentative ranking of winners prior to their presentations and validation of authenticity, which determines the final rank of winning papers. Until the presentation round, judging is blind. Of the 156 solution papers submitted, the top six prizes were awarded as follows:

Summa Cum Laude Team Prize – $20,000
Manalapan High School – Team #77, Manalapan, NJ
Coach: Jessy Friedman
Students: Jason Kornblum, Dennis Kim, Caleb Tseng, Franklin Tong, Naiim Ali

Magna Cum Laude Team Prize – $15,000
Manalapan High School – Team #76, Manalapan, NJ
Coach: Stephanie Pepper
Students: Andy Liu, Dorothea Tsang, David Tretheway, Jonathan Newman, Jesse Beyroutey

Cum Laude Team Prize – $10,000
Walt Whitman High School – Team #109, Huntington Station, NY
Coach: Louis Crisci
Students: John Lacara, Matthew Giambrone, Peter Werner, Julia Haigney, Jessica Bloom

Meritorious Team Prize – $7,500
High Technology High School – Team #10, Lincroft, NJ
Coach: Ellen LeBlanc
Students: Elizabeth Wendel, Raja Srinivas, Yelizaveta Yermakova

Exemplary Team Prize – $5,000
Great Neck North High School – Team #96, Great Neck, NY
Coach: Linda Litvack
Students: Ben Leibowicz, Sam Panzer, Barry Dynkin, David Rosengarten, Scott Huang

First Honorable Mention – $2,500
St. Peter's Preparatory School – Team #104, Jersey City, NJ
Coach: Benjamin Patiak
Students: David Garcia, Matthew Ward, Michael Rogers, Joe-Man Wan, Eric Morgan

Students from the following five high schools received Honorable Mention awards of $1,000 per team: Governor Livingston High School, Berkeley Heights, NJ; Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY; NYC Lab School, New York, NY; St. Peter's Preparatory School, Jersey City, NJ; and Sayville High School, West Sayville, NY.

"Our goal, and the goal of the competition, is to motivate high school students to think about solving real-world problems using applied mathematics," said Frances G. Laserson, President, The Moody's Foundation. "We want to increase students' interest in pursuing math-related studies and careers in college and beyond."

"We are thrilled to have been able to provide over 700 students with a unique and rewarding educational experience. Most importantly, we were able to connect their academic experience to real-world issues and provide valuable financial support for their college careers. We look forward to growing and expanding this wonderful program," effused Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Philanthropy Manager, The Moody's Foundation, after the awards were presented.

Based in New York City, The Moody's Foundation sponsors all of the scholarship prizes (totaling $65,000) as well as the promotion and administration of the contest and the judging process. The Moody's Foundation is a charitable foundation established by Moody's Corporation. 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; Moody's KMV, a provider of quantitative credit analysis tools; Moody's, which provides economic research and data services; and Moody's Wall Street Analytics, a provider of software tools and analysis for the structured finance industry. The corporation, which reported revenue of $2.0 billion in 2006, employs approximately 3,400 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 27 countries. Further information is available at

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, organizes and administers Moody's Mega Math Challenge. SIAM is an international community of more than 11,000 individual members. These include applied and computational mathematicians, computer scientists, and other scientists and engineers. Members are researchers, educators, students and practitioners from 85 countries who are working in industry, government, laboratories, and in academia. The Society, which also ncludes over 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 promotes regional sections and student chapters that provide many opportunities for students. Further information is available at


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