Students use math to help US high-speed rail get back on track

Students use math to help US high-speed rail get back on track

Top high school teams in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge will share $115,000 in college scholarships

April 2, 2012

Philadelphia, PA - Judges for Moody's Mega Math Challenge evaluated nearly 1,000 solution papers, and have selected the top 55 as the contest moves one step closer to deciding this year's best.

In this year's contest, more than 5,000 students used mathematical modeling to identify and rank the best regions in the country for establishing high speed rail lines as part of a nationwide network, an issue currently being debated in Congress. Using their math knowledge along with critical thinking, research, and analytical skills, participants provided mathematically-founded recommendations based on potential ridership numbers, cost of implementation, and effects of such a program on foreign-energy dependence. Working independently via the Internet, teams of 3-5 students had just 14 hours to study the issue, collect data, and devise models before uploading their solutions in the form of a research paper.

After the students completed their analysis, more than 100 mathematician judges went to work reading and ranking the submissions. Of the nearly 1,000 papers submitted, only 134 made it through round one, or "triage" judging, and were advanced to the "contention" or second round, which took place this past weekend at the Philadelphia headquarters of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), organizers of the contest. It was here that these papers, which represent the top 14 percent of submissions, were whittled down to 55 teams worthy of prize recognition.

Now in its seventh year, the M3 challenge is a unique contest designed to highlight the value of mathematics in daily life and in solving real-world issues. It is sponsored by The Moody's Foundation, which awards a total of $115,000 in prizes.

The Finalist teams, or top six overall-- listed below in alphabetical order-- will receive scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $20,000. These outstanding teams have been invited to present their winning solutions to a panel of professional applied mathematicians at the Manhattan headquarters of Moody's Corporation on Thursday, April 26, when their final rank order will be determined and prizes awarded.

High Technology High School, Team #286, Lincroft, New Jersey; Coach: Ellen LeBlanc

Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Team #202, Flemington, New Jersey; Coach: Eric Wasserman

Nashoba Regional High School, Team #548, Bolton, Massachusetts; Coach: Mary Redford

NC School of Science and Mathematics, Team #808, Durham, North Carolina; Coach: Teague Dan

Pine View School, Team #218, Osprey, Florida; Coach: Christine DeVeau

Staples High School, Team #659, Westport, Connecticut; Coach: Gertrude Denton

Papers from the following six teams underwent in-depth discussion and were deemed of exceptional quality by judges. They are recognized as Semi-Finalists and will receive prizes of $1,500 each:

Ben Davis High School, Team #1204, Indianapolis, Indiana; Coach: Chris Evans

Cape Elizabeth High School, Team #147, Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Coach: Chris Hayward

Eastside High School, Team #365, Gainesville, Florida, Coach: Carl Henriksen

Fillmore Central School, Team #656, Fillmore, New York; Coach: Colleen Myers

Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, Team #574, Richmond, Virginia; Coach: Benesh Dickson

Pine View School, Team #220, Osprey, Florida; Coach: Ann Hankinson

Teams representing the following 43 schools are recognized with Honorable Mention distinction. Team Prizes of $1,000 each will be awarded to them for noteworthy submissions:

Academic Magnet High School, Team #1233, North Charleston, South Carolina

B. Reed Henderson High School, Team #778, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Carteret High School, Team #984, Carteret, New Jersey

Cheshire High School, Team #348, Cheshire, Connecticut

Delbarton School, Team #827, Morristown, New Jersey

Delbarton School, Team #829, Morristown, New Jersey

East Lyme High School, Team #479, Mystic, Connecticut

Eastside High School, Team #364, Gainesville, Florida

Enloe High School, Team #1190, Raleigh, North Carolina

Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Team #104, Manlius, New York

Gabriel Richard Catholic High School, Team #1016, Riverview, Michigan

Greenwood High School, Team #640, Greenwood, Wisconsin

Guilderland High School, Team #308, Guilderland Center, New York

Haddam Killingworth High School, Team #326, Higganum, Connecticut

Hampton High School, Team #1078, Allison Park, Pennsylvania

Hendersonville High School, Team #1089, Hendersonville, Tennessee

High Point Regional High School, Team #1103, Sussex, New Jersey

Horace Greeley High School, Team #193, Chappaqua, New York

Howell High School, Team #547, Howell, Michigan

Ida S. Baker High School, Team #924, Cape Coral, Florida

International Academy East, Team #556, Troy, Michigan

J.R. Masterman Demonstration High School, Team #164, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

John L Miller Great Neck North High School, Team #567, Great Neck, New York

Lake Zurich High School, Team #432, Lake Zurich, Illinois

Livingston High School, Team #692, Livingston, New Jersey

Maple Grove Senior High, Team #473, Maple Grove, Minnesota

Mattawan High School, Team #964, Mattawan, Michigan

Middlesex County Academy, Team #484, Edison, New Jersey

Montverde Academy, Team #465, Montverde, Florida

Mount Sinai High School, Team #112, Mount Sinai, New York

NC School of Science and Mathematics, Team #798, Durham, North Carolina

New Glarus Middle/High School, Team #68, New Glarus, Wisconsin

North Hills Senior High School, Team #648, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

North Penn High School, Team #302, Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Saline High School, Team #500, Saline, Michigan

Sidwell Friends School, Team #437, Washington, District of Columbia

Strath Haven High School, Team #63, Wallingford, Pennsylvania

The Academy Science, LCPS, Team #813, Sterling, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Team #724, Alexandria, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Team #726, Alexandria, Virginia

West Windsor-Plainsboro HS North, Team #529, Plainsboro, New Jersey

West Windsor-Plainsboro HS South, Team #784, Princeton Junction, New Jersey

Winchester High School, Team #947, Winchester, Massachusetts

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, 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 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

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