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## An overview of M3 Challenge 2012

At Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2012, thousands of high school students created mathematical models to determine the best regions in the country for establishing rail lines as part of a revived High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program. The regions were ranked based on estimates of ridership numbers over the next 20 years, and costs of building and maintenance, in addition to the effects such rail networks would have on American dependence on foreign energy. Watch a 5-minute overview video of the Challenge below:

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## Moving mathematics beyond the classroom: Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

M3 Challenge emphasizes the practical implications of math

Skill in mathematics has traditionally been associated with being good with numbers. This has led to the conventional wisdom that the answers—and hence, grades—tend to be more clear-cut and unforgiving in math classes, allowing less room for the flair and creativity associated with the humanities where classes are more discussion-based and imaginative.

But it’s important to recognize that math isn’t always as absolute as it seems. Outside the classroom, the practical implications of math go far beyond cracking a complicated calculus problem. Math is being used to create models for disease therapy, simulations for climate change, and frameworks for financial markets—solving real-world problems whose answers suddenly aren’t just numbers or formulas anymore, but rather the basis for making decisions about the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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## Solve a math problem, earn thousands for college

Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

Earning a college scholarship by competing with hundreds of teams in solving a challenging, real-world problem using math is no mean feat.

And it’s not just about the money, as Andrew Das Sarma will tell you. “The money is very nice—we appreciate it—but the satisfaction of winning the competition and getting this far, doing so well against so many other really good teams: that’s really worth more to us than the money,” he said after his team from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD won the top $20,000 prize in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge last year. Read the rest of this entry » by ## High school students find solutions to real-world issues—mathematically Moody's Mega Math Challenge Registration now open for 2011 contest From breaking down the numbers behind the U.S. Census to figuring out the effect of the stimulus package to assessing the unintended consequences of increased ethanol use, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge contenders have done it all. And there’s a brand new exciting problem coming their way in March. Registration for Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge 2011 opens today. And we’re excited! Over the past five years, the Challenge has grown from 129 teams in the New York City metro area to 633 teams from the entire East Coast. Scholarship prizes have risen from$67,500 in 2006 to $100,000 this year. With so much focus on exams and test scores these days, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge sets out to remind high schoolers that math is more than just problems in a text book. Teams are required to solve an open-ended, applied math-modeling problem focused on a real-world issue in 14 hours. The Challenge is entirely Internet-based, and students are allowed to use free, publicly available, inanimate sources of information. Solutions are judged based on the approach and methods used, and the creativity displayed in problem-solving and math-modeling. There is no unique, correct answer and partial solutions are accepted. The next Challenge weekend will be March 5-6, 2011. There are no entrance or participation fees and each high school may enter up to two teams of three to five students each. Scholarship prizes totaling$100,000 will be awarded to winning students toward the pursuit of higher education. The problem is completely unknown to teams until they login on their selected Challenge day at 7:00 a.m., after which they will have until 9 p.m. that night to research the question, analyze their findings, develop a model, and submit their answer in the form of a solution paper, which is uploaded to the Challenge website.

As Andrew Das Sarma of Montgomery Blair High School (MD)–whose team won the top prize in the 2010 Challenge–puts it, “This contest is much more open-ended than your standard math competition. It’s not Â‘just solve the problem and fill out the answer.’ You have to write a very long paper, so you have a lot more freedom to really go in-depth with the problem.” His teammate, Jacob Hurwitz, echoes this point, “I’ve never done a math competition that was open-ended and applied math to something real like the census. Most of the time, it’s math that nobody cares about; it’s just sort of some abstract concept.”

The goal of this real-world focus is to introduce students to applied math as a powerful problem-solving tool, and potentially, as a viable and exciting profession. It’s little surprise then, that the Challenge has helped many participants in making decisions to pursue careers in mathematics.

“Moody’s Mega Math Challenge is an excellent venue for students to apply critical thinking skills to real life problems that have immediate relevancy,” says Raymond Eng, a teacher-coach at High Technology High School (NJ), whose teams have found success in every past contest. “[It] gives students the opportunity to show off what they have learned and mastered, and provides a reason and rationale to further their education.”

The excitement doesn’t end with the Challenge weekend for many of the prize recipients. Past Challenge winners have appeared on national cable news shows, been interviewed by radio talk show hosts, have had their papers published in peer-reviewed research publications, and have even been invited by the experts themselves to present their findings.

“The fact that this competition is at a high enough level that the winning paper could be published really says something about the contest and also the level of competitors,” says Jacob Hurwitz, whose team’s winning paper was published in SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO) earlier this year.

The Challenge is funded by The Moody’s Foundation and organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). Complete information on Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2011 can be found at http://m3challenge.siam.org. Register your team through the “Participate” tab.

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