The M3 Challenge is an intense competition for students who are interested in using mathematics to solve real-world problems. Organized by the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics, this competition gets students thinking about solutions to real life challenges under time and resource constraints. The competition draws teams of 11th and 12th graders from across the U.S., all vying for a share of $150,000 in college scholarships.
Carroll’s math team boasts five talented teens. Mrs. Ming says, “I invited students to participate who I thought would be willing to really take on this challenge. These five all possess skillsets and character qualities that will serve them well during the competition, like being willing to think outside of the box, being diligent, forthright, and having the ability to complete what they start.”
In addition to their strength of character, these students bring a mix of academic and personal experience to the endeavor. Four of them are I.B. students, two are seniors who have experience writing internal assessments, one is a visual artist, two are student athletes, one is a singer-songwriter, and all of them love mathematics.
To prepare for the big day, the team has been meeting weekly with Mrs. Ming during the month of February. They’ve spent time discovering each other’s strengths and studied questions and winning submissions from previous years. Last year’s challenge question: What is higher education really worth? How can modeling show the cost, return, and value of a college education?
The students have put in work preparing for the M3 Challenge. Now it’s time to deliver. At 7 a.m. on Feb. 27, the five students will gather in the McGowan Computer Lab at Carroll and begin. Once this year’s question is published, the team will have fourteen consecutive hours to complete their answer. The competition rules state that once the problem has been downloaded, teacher-coaches are prohibited from providing assistance to any team member. So it will be a long day for the five students with only their teammates to turn to for assistance. Nonetheless, a group of teachers and administrators will be there for moral support and encouragement.
Tackling lofty questions about topics like the value of a college education might be overwhelming for some, but these students know that there is mathematics and research in any proposed solution. They are ready and able to break down real-world problems and come up with well-thought-out solutions. They are confident that by capitalizing on their strengths — whether it’s mathematics, writing, research or analysis — they can work together effectively as a team and submit a comprehensive response.
Mrs. Ming is extremely proud of the students, just for taking on the challenge; but she’s also excited to see what their final submission is. She shared, “I think it’s fun for people who have this aptitude to see what they can do with it.”
For more information on Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, visit: https://m3challenge.siam.org/.