Competition Teaches Applying Math Skills to Real World

Episcopal AP Calculus, AP Statistics, and Precalculus class students competed this week in an international math modeling contest. MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge) is a contest for high school juniors and seniors. Through participation, students experience what it’s like to work as a team to tackle a real-world problem under time and resource constraints, akin to those faced by professional mathematicians.

Students are presented with a problem and data based on a real-world situation (such as “Remote Work: Fad or Future?”), must make assumptions and identify variables to solve it, and then complete the math steps necessary to find a solution and make predictions. They then work to to refine and improve their model, documenting the process over the 14-hour contest. They write a full report on their model and receive professional feedback from applied mathematicians around the world.

“The M3Challenge and the advanced courses we offer have been a great addition to the work of Episcopal’s Math Department. Students are often asked to apply what they have learned to a situation where the math is well-known: constant growth, radioactive decay, projectile motion. This contest presents a real situation where the model is not clear, and students get to build one of their own, test it out, and make adjustments. They get to solve problems like an applied mathematician,” said Andy Hostetler, Upper School mathematics instructor.