If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the importance of making big decisions. From COVID-19 to an economic crisis to wildfires raging across much of the western US, big things are happening all around us. This isn’t unique to 2020, though it does seem like there are more big things happening at once this year than there have been in the past. To many students, it may seem like these major life events are out of their control; however, being able to navigate tricky situations and make an educated decision on the best course of action is a life skill that will benefit them greatly as they grow into their future careers.
We can’t go back on 2020 and do it over, but we can use these big, risky circumstances as teachable moments with students and empower them to become better decision makers throughout their lives.
One great way to teach risk analysis and the art of making big decisions is the Modeling the Future Challenge. Participants in this challenge work together to come up with their own recommendations on how to solve real-world problems. This has many lasting benefits for the students who decide to take on the challenge. These benefits will help them navigate situations now and into adulthood. Here are a few ways you can use the Modeling the Future Challenge to bring these skills forward for your students!
Show students they can make an impact.
When big problems plague our lives, it is easy for us to feel like there is nothing we can do about it. Allowing students to tackle big problems in a safe environment like the Modeling the Future Challenge, shows them firsthand that with the right tools, some imagination, and teamwork, even kids can solve big problems.
This is the perspective and motivation behind many of humankind’s most outstanding achievements. It is also a skill hard to teach in the classroom. That is why academic competitions are such a valuable addition to a student’s education. They are the perfect setting to push kids to think past their limits and get creative. The 2020-21 Modeling the Future Challenge has an open theme which allows students to identify their own challenge topic for their research project. This freedom of choice is a big driver in helping students take ownership of their project and work towards recommending ways to approach the risks associated with the topic they have selected.
Teach students how to analyze risks.
Every decision we make involves some amount of risk. While some risks are bigger than others, having the skills to determine the level of risk in any situation and determine the possible outcomes is a life skill that students will utilize throughout life. Perhaps a student wants to go to a friend’s birthday party. In today’s world with COVID-19 still a concern, this simple question poses a potential risk. How can someone, especially, a student understand how to analyze that risk? There is always an inherent risk when making any decision, but now there is even more to analyze and think about than ever.
The Modeling the Future Challenge gets down and dirty with data. It pushes students to think about analyzing any situation with a real-world mathematical mindset. Students taking on the Modeling the Future Challenge get enveloped into a world of data science and mathematical modeling that give them tools they can take forward into any situation throughout their life.
Students who participate in The Modeling the Future Challenge will learn the Actuarial Method (much like the scientific process) to weigh risks, big and small. Because this method is learned through hands-on, real-world action, students will internalize the skills they learn and easily use them again and again.
Inspire students to make big decisions.
Navigating risk is a part of our daily lives, but so is decision making. Many times, students make it all the way through school without having to make any big decisions on their own. Then they find themselves away at college where their decisions have real-life ramifications, with no idea how to make the best choice.
Participating in the Modeling the Future Challenge gives students the perfect environment to think for themselves, collaborate with peers, and feel the outcome of their decisions. In addition, allowing students to own their choices and the results is one of the best real-world learning opportunities a student can have. The Modeling the Future Challenge has created the perfect environment for ambitious students to do just that.
Making big decisions is also about confidence. Do you have the confidence in yourself to present to your boss, your teacher, or a whole organization information where there is no single, exactly right answer? That’s what it takes to be in many leadership roles today. Leaders at all levels must be able to confidently present information with their own analysis and make recommendations on how to move forward to tackle a large-scale challenge. This may be the most important skill the Modeling the Future Challenge can help students learn. This confidence doesn’t come from nowhere. It is nurtured by long, hard practice, and the MTFC is a great place to help students start!
The Modeling the Future Challenge is open for registration through November 16th. Don’t miss the opportunity to get engaged in this year’s number one real-world data-science and math-modeling competition!
Learn more about the Modeling the Future Challenge today!
No matter what competition you choose, giving students the opportunity to participate in academic challenges is a great way to enhance their education and teach them the skills they need to navigate whatever comes their way. Interested in the Modeling the Future Challenge and other academic competitions?
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At a Glance:
The U.S. has stagnated in how many students are proficient in mathematics on international assessments. The cause for this may be in how we structure our mathematics instruction by focusing on contrived teach-to-the-test methodologies.
Math modeling is one strategy for teachers to re-focus their efforts on real-world, problem-solving mentalities to better engage students in mathematics.
Mathworks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge is an opportunity that high school math educators can use to better engage their students in the math curriculum. Registration for M3 Challenge is open through February 21st, 2020.
This featured article was written with Mathworks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge. M3 Challenge, sponsored by MathWorks and organized by Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, is an exciting opportunity to connect 11th and 12th grade students with real-world problem-solving challenges. Registration is open through February 21st, 2020.
Since the beginning of the modern formal education system, the mathematics classroom has been a kingdom of its own, separated from the world around it. This land of numbers, symbols and signs has its own language. For some students, this is an exciting wonderland where crisp, clean calculations lead to discoveries that capture even the wildest of imaginations. However, for many this kingdom of numbers remains a strange, foreign and often scary land – one where they do not understand the meaning of the symbols and, perhaps most importantly, one where they do not recognize the importance of even speaking the language.
The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that student proficiency in math in the U.S. has stagnated at 33%. On the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the U.S. ranked 38th out of 71 countries. These numbers have been commonly cited as demonstrations that our schools are failing us. However, the problem is not with our students, or with our teachers, but rather with the way our formal education system separates math into its own walled gardens and demands that students focus on answering simplified, standardized test questions with little connection to the real world. This focus on teaching to the test has ripped a wide gap in mathematics education between the real-world excitement of mathematics and what our students get in their classrooms.
Even though much of the educational system is still based on teach-to-the-test methodologies, there is hope for change. More and more schools have been adopting innovative educational programs that help connect their students with real-world applications of mathematics. In particular, math modeling has become an important subset of these programs demonstrating a great power to help students focus on the problem-solving value and usefulness of mathematics.
Math modeling is a process that uses mathematics to represent, analyze, make predictions or otherwise provide insight into real-world phenomena.
In 2015, the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP) and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) released a report, Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Mathematical Modeling Education (GAIMME). The report explains how math modeling can be a solution to the challenges many schools face with engaging their students in learning math.
Math modeling is a process that uses mathematics to represent, analyze, make predictions or otherwise provide insight into real-world phenomena. Used in a variety of scientific disciplines, models are abstractions of reality that respect reality, and can lead to scientific advances, be the foundation for new discoveries, and help leaders make informed decisions.
Math modeling is different from simply creating word-problems to help students conceptualize a mathematics process. The example using two trains moving in opposite directions and asking the students to calculate the distance between them is the classic example of a word-problem. These types of problems do little to connect students to the real-world problem-solving power of mathematics.
The GAIMME report illustrates the evolution from a “regular” math problem to a modeling problem through the figure noted above. Further explanation in the distinctions between these problem types were provided from Ben Galluzzo (Clarkson University) in a 2019 NCSM talk on math modeling. Going left to right from a math problem to word problem, to application problem to modeling problem we can see the changes in how students are engaged with the mathematics.
While converting problems into a math-modeling structure will not solve all of our mathematics classroom woes, it does help with many. To help educators do this, SIAM has created a series of resources that can be used to incorporate math modeling problems into the classroom curriculum; find these handbooks, guidelines, videos, sample problems and more under the “Resources” tab on the M3 Challenge website.
Mathworks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge is an opportunity to use custom designed challenges with your students that use this problem-solving structure to engage students. You can learn more about this contest on the M3 Challenge website and find many sample problems from past years that you can use with your students. Additionally, M3 Challenge provides up to $100,000 in scholarship awards to students each year!
Registration for this Challenge is open through February 21st, 2020, and is completely free. We encourage any high school math educator to explore the resources provided through M3 Challenge. The experience is likely to help you increase your students’ engagement and performance on mathematical assessments, as well as truly increasing their interest in mathematics by including a real-world, problem-solving structure in your classroom.
170 teams from across the country challenged themselves with qualifying scenarios in the 2019-20 MTF Challenge. This past week The Actuarial Foundation announced the 98 teams that qualified for the project phase of the challenge! These teams have completed one or more intense qualifying scenarios to move forward. Each scenario challenged students to analyze real-world data and respond to questions including statistical analysis, trend projections, risk identification, and critical-thinking.
The qualified teams are now being connected with actuary mentors through The Actuarial Foundation’s network of volunteers. These teams will have until the end of February to complete their own modeling the future project and present a report on how they expect climate change or water access to impact the future of agriculture! See if a team from your state qualified in the list below, and don’t forget to check out the Modeling the Future Challenge website on how you can join the challenge to help model the future next year!
2019-20 MTF Challenge Qualifying Teams:
|Team Name||School or Organization||City, State|
|Acton Boxborough Team||Acton Boxborough Regional High School||Acton, MA|
|NDBeSmarTigers||Notre Dame High School||Belmont, CA|
|Mathmagicians||Whitney High School||Cerritos, CA|
|Accurate Actuary||Whitney High School||Cerritos, CA|
|Math Modelling||Hamilton High School||Chandler, AZ|
|Payton – Team 2||Walter Payton College Prep (Chicago Public Schools)||Chicago, IL|
|Payton – Team 1||Walter Payton College Prep (Chicago Public Schools)||Chicago, IL|
|Cream of the Crop||Student Team||Clarkstown, NY|
|Blue Devil Hedge||Columbus High School||Columbus, GA|
|CHS Visionaries||Columbus High School||Columbus, GA|
|Squad-ratics||iSTEM Geauga Early College High School||Concord Township, OH|
|Minute Men||iSTEM Geauga Early College High School||Concord Township, OH|
|High Voltage||iSTEM Geauga Early College High School||Concord Township, OH|
|Alge-bros||iSTEM Geauga Early College High School||Concord Township, OH|
|10% Rule||Monta Vista High School||Cupertino, CA|
|Science Bound||Science Bound||Des Moines, IA|
|Central Academy A||Central Academy||Des Moines, IA|
|Central Academy B||Central Academy||Des Moines, IA|
|Unicorn 5||NC School of Science and Mathematics||Durham, NC|
|Unicorn 1||NC School of Science and Mathematics||Durham, NC|
|Unicorn 4||NC School of Science and Mathematics||Durham, NC|
|Purple Potato Donkey||NC School of Science and Mathematics||Durham, NC|
|HHS Streaks!||Harrisonburg High School||Harrisonburg, VA|
|Falcons||Kalani High School||Honolulu, HI|
|Dolphins R Us||Arkansas School for Mathematics and Science||Hot Springs, AR|
|ASMSA||Arkansas School for Mathematics and Science||Hot Springs, AR|
|Paxon Eagle||Paxon School for Advanced Studies||Jacksonville, FL|
|Paxon||Paxon School for Advanced Studies||Jacksonville, FL|
|Jericho A||Jericho High School||Jericho, NY|
|Jericho B||Jericho High School||Jericho, NY|
|Don’t Spill The Beans||Kalaheo High School||Kailua, HI|
|[redacted] Consulting||Kalaheo High School||Kailua, HI|
|GSMST-Team 3-5||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|GSMST-Team 3-3||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|GSMST-Team 7-10||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|GSMST-Team 3-1||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|GSMST-Team 7-11||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|GSMST-Team 3-7||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|GSMST-Team 3-4||GSMST||Lawrenceville, GA|
|Atoms||High Technology High School||Lincroft, NJ|
|LAHS Team A||LAHS Math Modeling Club||Los Altos, CA|
|LAHS Team B||LAHS Math Modeling Club||Los Altos, CA|
|MVHS Math Modeling #2||Mountain View High School Math Modeling Club||Los Altos, CA|
|Alphabeta||North Hollywood High School||Los Angeles, CA|
|Math Matters||Milton High School||Milton, GA|
|Mathigators||Everglades High School / Miami Dade College||Miramar, FL|
|Mountain View High Math Modeling Team||Mountain View High School Math Modeling Club||Mountain View, CA|
|Team Rocket||Hunter College High School||New York, NY|
|team pepe||Hunter College High School||New York, NY|
|HCHS||Hunter College High School||New York, NY|
|Glenbrook North 1||Glenbrook North High School||Northbrook, IL|
|Wheatley WildCalcs||The Wheatley School||Old Westbury, NY|
|Casti Corn||Castilleja School||Palo Alto, CA|
|The Bean Team||Castilleja School||Palo Alto, CA|
|ESAD||Castilleja School||Palo Alto, CA|
|Wayzata Blue||Wayzata High School||PLYMOUTH, MN|
|Wayzata Gold||Wayzata High School||PLYMOUTH, MN|
|Five Guys Burgers and Math||Richard Montgomery High School||Potomac, MD|
|🙂||Richard Montgomery High School||Potomac, MD|
|Bulldog Warriors||Winston Churchill High School||Potomac, MD|
|Perfectly Phat Pandas||Wootton High School||Potomac, MD|
|Cutwrongs||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|Calcoholics||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|The Wurst||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|McGERM!!||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|Crystal Math||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|Joshua n’ Co.||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|Zim Boys Never Broke||Maggie Walker Governors School||Richmond, VA|
|America’s Next Math Models||Lick-Wilmerding High School||San Francisco, CA|
|Tigers||Lick-Wilmerding High School||San Francisco, CA|
|Lick-Wilmodeling||Lick-Wilmerding High School||San Francisco, CA|
|&amp;amp;amp;radic;-1 2^3 &amp;amp;amp;sum; &amp;amp;amp;Pi; (I Ate Some Pie)||Lick-Wilmerding High School||San Francisco, CA|
|Proof School||Proof School||San Francisco, CA|
|St. Ignatius Blue||St. Ignatius College Preparatory||San Francisco, CA|
|ZOOM||East Side Union High School||San Jose, CA|
|MANEssentials||East Side Union High School||San Jose, CA|
|Team Darius||East Side Union High School||San Jose, CA|
|Static Function||Santa Teresa High School||San Jose, CA|
|QLS Math||Quarry Lane School||San Ramon, CA|
|Team Geicko||West Ranch High School||Santa Clarita, CA|
|Team REKT||West Ranch High School||Santa Clarita, CA|
|Maria Carrillo Pumaths||Maria Carrillo High School||Santa Rosa, CA|
|Zoomers||Academy for Information Technology||Scotch Plains, NJ|
|Cookies ‘n Cream||Academy for Information Technology||Scotch Plains, NJ|
|Water||Academy for Information Technology||Scotch Plains, NJ|
|SuperBoyz||Academy for Information Technology||Scotch Plains, NJ|
|1blair||Montgomery Blair High School||Silver Spring, MD|
|Waukee APEX – Foxtrot||Waukee APEX||Waukee, IA|
|Waukee APEX – Tango||Waukee APEX||Waukee, IA|
|Westtown 3||Westtown School||West Chester, PA|
|Westtown Moose 1||Westtown School||West Chester, PA|
|Westlake Modeling||Connecting for Kids||Westlake, OH|
|Differentiation Nation||Yorkville High School||Yorkville, IL|
|Team Stemmet||Yorkville High School||Yorkville, IL|