Making math real with Moody�s Mega Math Challenge

December 20, 2010

As America strives to become more competitive in the global economy, many schools across the U.S. are increasing their focus on math and science education and pushing for higher standards in science, technology, engineering, and math courses. Of equal importance, however, is the students' ability to apply their knowledge to real-world issues: a skill that will eventually allow them to translate their education to successful careers in research and industry.

That is the idea behind Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge, an applied math modeling contest for high school juniors and seniors funded by The Moody's Foundation and organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

The realistic focus of the contest--which is different from what students routinely encounter in standard school curricula--spotlights math as a powerful problem solving tool and educates participants on its relevance to worldly issues. For instance, participating teams in past years have pondered the effectiveness of ethanol as biofuel and have proposed ideas to improve the U.S. Census count.

"Being involved in this project (the M3 Challenge), I saw how pertinent [math] is to the everyday life of the average American citizen," said Scott Yu, whose team won the top prize in the 2010 Challenge. "Seeing the tremendous role statisticians and mathematicians can have on American society--that was tremendously valuable and important to me."

The goal of the Challenge is to motivate students to study and pursue careers in applied mathematics, economics, finance, and related fields. Winners are judged based on their approach, methods, and creativity in problem solving and math modeling, and receive scholarships totaling $100,000 toward the pursuit of higher education.

The next Challenge is scheduled for March 5-6, 2011. Working in teams of three to five, students will have 14 hours to solve an open-ended, realistic problem with the help of any free, publicly available, and inanimate sources of information. Teams can select their preferred Challenge day to work: Saturday, March 5, or Sunday, March 6. The problem will be completely unknown to them until they log in on their selected day.

The contest also hones students' skills in public speaking, as the top six teams are required to present their papers to a panel of professional PhD-level mathematicians at the final event at Moody's Corporation headquarters in Manhattan. Student experiences often extend well beyond the Challenge, as past years have seen successful teams interviewed on cable news shows and winning papers published in peer-reviewed journals. The contest provides students with yet another real-world experience, which will no doubt prove useful to them throughout their professional careers: working together as a team on a complex project under a tight deadline.

Contests like Moody's Mega Math Challenge, which introduce core subjects to students in novel ways, have become more relevant as they value unique approaches and creativity as much as technical accuracy. "Not all students want to learn math by cramming from a textbook or working endless formulaic expressions," says M3 Challenge Project Director Michelle Montgomery. "Some learn better by using data to solve a complex problem. Others find more relevance to their mathematics education by recognizing its impact on other fields."

There's no better endeavor than Moody's Mega Math Challenge to offer students that unique experience.

So register now! Go to

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About the Sponsor

The Moody's Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting a variety of nonprofit education, health and human services, civic, and arts and culture programs. Established by Moody's Corporation in 2001, the Foundation's primary area of giving is secondary and higher education with a focus on mathematics, economics, and finance. Further information is available at

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 is the parent company of Moody's Investors Service and Moody's Analytics, which encompasses the growing array of Moody's non-ratings businesses. The Corporation, which reported revenue of $1.8 billion in 2009, employs approximately 4,100 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 26 countries. Further information is available at

About the Organizer

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, 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. It is an international society of over 13,000 applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners from 90 countries working in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes nearly 500 academic and corporate institutional members, SIAM provides many opportunities for students including regional sections and student chapters. Further information is available at

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