• The Institute of Competition Sciences and the Actuarial Foundation have had great success developing the high school Modeling the Future Challenge.
  • Our partnership is expanding with the 2023 academic year to include the middle school Hardest Math Problem Contest.
  • To learn more, visit the Hardest Math Problem website: https://www.hardestmathproblem.org/

As the Managing Partner of The Actuarial Foundation’s Modeling the Future Challenge (MTFC), we have had the privilege of witnessing thousands of high school students present incredible research projects that detail mathematically sound recommendations to mitigate risks. The participants of the MTFC have truly amazed us with their outstanding projects analyzing pressing matters such as the local impact of environmental and community issues, as well as global issues like climate change, increasing technology concerns, and even space debris.

The MTFC has become an incredible opportunity for high school students to learn how applied mathematics, actuarial science, and risk analysis can be used to help solve real-world problems. The Actuarial Foundation strives to make mathematics exciting and attainable for students at all ages. With the success of collaborating during the MTFC, together, we are strengthening the pipeline of future actuarial professionals by introducing younger students to real-world math and data science problems.

In our continued joint effort to provide more students with opportunities to explore the world of data and actuarial science, we are excited to announce that the Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) is now serving as the Managing Partner for The Actuarial Foundation’s Hardest Math Problem to help enhance and expand its impact to middle schools across the country.

The Hardest Math Problem Contest (HMP) is an annual competition that presents US students in grades 6-8 with multi-step mathematical word problems centered around real-world scenarios. Students in 5th grade are also eligible to participate as an added challenge. These problems feature relatable characters and situations that make mathematics more relevant and personal for the students. The contest not only challenges students to find the correct solution but also encourages them to explore various approaches and document the steps they took to arrive at their answers.

Through The Hardest Math Problem, The Actuarial Foundation is providing a platform for younger learners to develop their problem-solving skills and gain exposure to the practical applications of mathematics and data science. Engaging students at this stage can spark their interest in these fields and inspire them to pursue further studies in actuarial science or related disciplines, opening up a host of high-demand career pathways. The actuarial industry alone is projected to expand an astonishing 21% over the next 10 years!

The HMP consists of a two-part challenge structure, with each challenge building on the skills developed in the previous one. Students who correctly solve Challenge 1 are invited to participate in Challenge 2, where they face more complex problems that require advanced mathematical and analytical thinking. This progression allows students to continually push their boundaries and deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts.

In addition to the unparalleled learning opportunity this competition provides, the HMP offers some amazing prizes to help students kickstart their academic careers. The grand prize for the contest is a substantial $5000 contribution towards a 529 college savings plan. Furthermore, the contest also recognizes the important role of educators in supporting their students by awarding gift cards and pizza parties to celebrate the teachers who have guided the participants on their journey.

We are thrilled to be supporting the new phase of this amazing competition. To learn more about The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest, visit the official website here: https://www.hardestmathproblem.org/ or view example projects from previous years to see how the HMP can fit into your curriculum during the 2023-24 school year: https://www.hardestmathproblem.org/example-projects/

March has been a whirlwind of news about the financial sector with at least five banks failing or heading in that direction. As we learn more about what happened with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the insights into how the 16th largest bank in the US failed highlight the importance of risk management and the need for better risk management education. This article from the Global Association of Risk Professionals, https://www.garp.org/risk-intelligence/market/silicon-valley-bank-031423, dives into some of the ways that SVB failed to have adequate risk management and mitigation strategies. These critical functions for business aren’t traditionally taught in schools; however, as industries become more complex, perhaps they should be.

Schools and teachers are constantly looking for better ways to demonstrate the “real world” connection for mathematical concepts. Well, it couldn’t get more real than this. How do you model the likelihood that customers will withdraw $42 Billion in deposits in a single day? How do you know how much money to have in reserve for such “longtail” risk outcomes? This is where the job of the actuary and financial risk managers come into play. Statistics, probability, and mathematical modeling are key skills in managing these very real risks and are transferrable to just about any industry.

Getting students to understand at an early age the importance of mathematical risk analysis could be a critical piece to the stability of future markets. As industries become more complex, risk analysis is an increasingly important skill for students to understand, but it is still given very little emphasis in schools. Risks are everywhere, but math can provide the solution to mitigate and manage these problems. Today, most K12 teachers don’t know where to begin in teaching these risk management skills because it hasn’t been a focus of their training. This is where we have to look outside of the traditional curriculum. The Modeling the Future Challenge from The Actuarial Foundation provides an excellent opportunity for students and teachers to learn more and to make that “real world” connection for their mathematics or computer science classroom. Here are a few important resources that may be helpful for students and teachers alike to help get started with mathematical risk analysis:

MTFC Resource Library: For student resources to help learn more about risk analysis and how to compete in the MTFC, check out the Modeling the Future Challenge’s Resource Library: https://www.mtfchallenge.org/resources/

Student Scholarships: The Actuarial Foundation Foundation offers additional scholarship programs for students interested in these areas. Information can be found here: https://actuarialfoundation.org/scholarships/

Teacher Training: For teachers wanting to learn how they can incorporate this into their classrooms, the Modeling the Future Challenge provides a paid professional development training course. Check it out here: https://www.mtfchallenge.org/educator-training-program/

On Campus MTFC Student Workshops: University partners across the country are offering on campus workshops in the fall for high school students to learn more about risk management and actuarial science. Schools can get travel grants from the Actuarial Foundation to cover the costs of bringing a class to the local workshop. Check out how here: https://www.mtfchallenge.org/news/on-campus/

#matheducation #mathteachers #mathmodeling #mathskills #actuarialscience #actuaries #scholarships #studentcompetition #riskmanagement #riskmitigation #riskanalysis #datascience

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
Booravo Booravo Irvine, CA
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-3-2 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
Green Independent Redmond, WA
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
√-1 2^3 ∑ Π (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

Everyone knows the classic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS). It seems like it has been around since before time itself. Part of the fun of RPS is in the challenge to try and find patterns in what your opponents will throw. If they do rock three times in a row, will they throw rock a forth?

Now, the Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) is exploring putting a new educational spin on this game. Instead of just using your logic to try to predict your opponent’s next throw, you will use math. In this new “Mathematical RPS” two teams will compete against each other in a match of 200 RPS rounds. Each team will present three equations at the beginning of the match defining values for Rock, Paper, and Scissors based on the round number (1 to 200). The other team then tries to beat their opponent by determining the functions they used at the beginning of the match. The team that determines the functions earliest, and who can use them to predict what their opponent will throw in later rounds will score more points and win the match.

ICS is opening the opportunity for public comment on the rules for the Mathematical RPS tournaments until February 28th. We look forward to collaborating with our community make a great new educational opportunity to engage and excite students about math. Our goal is to launch the tournaments online with the 2019-20 school year. Please take a moment to review the draft rules posted in this PDF, and provide input through our online Google Form to help us make the best educational RPS challenge possible.

The Madrid regional Spanish Mathematics Competition – leading to national May Math Olympiad and the International Mathematics Olympiad.

Early in the morning on Saturday, April 22, Spain’s capital saw thousands of madrileños gather to enjoy a highly-anticipated competition. Eager fans, trainers, and family members flocked to Complutense University for a chance to see the result of months of practice by the some of the most skilled young contestants. El Clásico (the famed match between the Real Madrid and Barcelona football clubs) was scheduled for the following day, but this spectacle sought to showcase a different sort of excellence. The crowd did not form around the soccer field, but rather the math department.

The XXI edition of the Concurso de Primavera de Matemáticas (the 21st Spring Math Competition) brought together the sharpest students from secondary schools throughout the region. Nearly 4,000 participants, ranging from 5th to 12th grade, arrived at the university at 8 AM on Saturday morning ready to tackle 25 math and logic problems in less than 90 minutes. After months of honing their problem-solving skills with practice exams, students from more than 500 secondary schools set their sights on making the list of 150 overall highest-scorers and grabbing the title of top 3 scorers in their age level. The most ambitious among the younger students looked to stand out and qualify for one of the 25 spots in the nation-wide XXIII Olimpiada de Mayo (the 23rd May Math Olympiad).

Carlos and Valentina, two of my students at IES Valdebernardo – a local high school in Spain- arrived at the Complutense with their work cut out for them. IES Valdebernardo has failed to place even one student among the top 150 scorers during the last five competitions. A quick look at results from the previous five competitions reveals the distance between Valdebernardo and the top-performers:

  • Colegio San José del Parque – At least 1 top-scoring student each year.
  • IES San Juan Bautista – At least 2 top-scoring students each year, including three years with 4 top-scorers.
  • Colégio Alemán – At least 4 top-scoring students each year, including one year with 6 and one year with 8 top-scorers.

The powerhouse of Colégio Alemán (Madrid’s German School), supported by millions of Euros in investment from the German government, offers a consistently impressive and intimidating record. IES Valdebernardo, an average public school within the community of Madrid, boasts little more than a math department excited to offer practice exercises to interested students and encourage their participation. The school lacks a well-developed blog devoted exclusively to math olympiads, a hallmark among high-achieving institutions. The disparity in resources and energy committed to the competition was noticeable between these two schools.

Carlos and Valentina seemed unbothered by this dynamic as they waited for their respective groups to start the exam. Once the doors opened, they calmly took their seats and began to grind out answers. Meanwhile, parents and teachers took in the day’s entertainment (a comedy duo of mathematicians tossing Pythagoras puns left and right). The spinning of cognitive wheels was all but audible as participants wrestled with questions on practical and theoretical algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus that would stump most educated adults (including the author).

An exhausting 90 minutes after they entered, the students emerged from classrooms and bolted for the front of the building, where official answers would soon be posted. Carlos and Valentina seemed lukewarm about their performance, opting for cautious optimism. Relieved and abuzz with excitement, the competitors compared strategies and answers, fist-pumping or groaning as the correct solutions were revealed. An especially tricky logic question concerning a girl named Alba’s collection of pyramids and prisms was the topic of much discussion for the youngest group, while the oldest students rehashed a monster problem about the graph of a parabolic function. Proud parents and teachers peppered their children with questions, the atmosphere electric.

At the end of the day, the list of winners was posted: 5 students from Colégio San José del Parque, 3 from IES San Juan Bautista, 7 from Colégio Alemán, and 0 students from IES Valdebernardo would be taking home the trophies and certificates for excellence in mathematics. Nonetheless, Carlos and Valentina cheerfully headed home. Valentina, sounding like a true purist, explained to me that she came for one simple reason: she loved math and the immense satisfaction of applying the right theorem or crafting a unique solution to a tricky problem. Having had the additional privilege of competing with the brightest young stars in the world of mathematics, Valentina was content with her performance. But fans of IES Valdebernardo are eager to see if she can knock one of the regulars from Colégio Alemán off the list of top scorers next year and replace them with “IES Valdebernardo!”