Students need to learn so many skills before they enter the adult world and start making decisions on their own. While schools are working hard to prepare children for the future, some lessons cannot be taught in the classroom.
With this gap, it is no surprise many young people spend their first few years away from home struggling to figure out how to succeed on their own. As parents, educators, and business leaders have come together, they have realized that academic competitions are one of the best ways to teach these missing skills.
When students participate in an academic competition, they learn the real-world skills not taught in school while also putting into practice the concepts they have already touched on.
One of the abilities the next generation will need to succeed in today’s digital world is data management. Academic competitions like The Modeling the Future Challenge are swooping in to teach students this marketable tool in a fun and concrete way.
So, why is data management so important?
Data management helps us make big decisions.
Both personally and professionally, all decisions we make are based on some form of data. Think about it. When you get dressed in the morning, you may look at the expected high and low temperatures, if there is rain, snow, or sun outside, and what season it is, to decide what to wear.
While this is a simple example, each of these is a piece of data you thought about to make an educated decision. The process is no different for big decisions like making an investment, taking a job, or how many college classes to take at a time.
Teaching students how to organize and manage the data they encounter daily will help them make their own big decisions in the future.
Data management helps us see the big picture.
When small things happen over a large period-of-time, it is easy to miss their impact. However, when we take a step back and look at the entirety of any situation, it’s easy to see the effects of small repetitive actions; a great example of this rainfall in a given region. It may seem only to rain a few inches at a time, but when you look at the totals for the entire year, you can spot a surplus or deficits and make changes accordingly. These big picture realizations are the driving force behind the daily realities of our lives.
Data management is one of the best tools a business can leverage for growth.
Whether a company is large or small, they are continuously collecting data from various points; what customers buy and don’t buy, what time of year materials are available or out of stock, even what time of day they need more staff in the building.
These may seem like obvious decisions, but every one of them is based on the data someone collected and organized to guide best practice. Having good data management skills will make students an asset to whatever company or industry they decide to pursue.
Where can students learn data management skills?
Unfortunately, the formal education system doesn’t do much for teaching data science and data management. We need to look beyond the formal classroom to help with this critical real-world skill. One of the best academic competitions for teaching students data management is the Modeling the Future Challenge. In this competition, students get the opportunity to solve real-world problems by collecting and analyzing data.
Participants in the Modeling the Future Challenge won’t stop there, though. They will then use what they have learned to develop a solution that can be implemented to make the world we live in a better place. That means they will need to organize and present their data so that others can understand their concept and the outcome.
This part is crucial because students will be presenting their ideas to leading business professionals in the industries they may themselves work one day.
The Modeling the Future Challenge is the perfect balance of pushing students to learn new skills and motivate them to work hard to achieve their goals.
Registration is already open for the Modeling the Future Challenge, so don’t wait and register today!
If your ready to have fun and learn new skills along the way, head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.
See more than one academic competition you would like to participate in? Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.”
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?
Head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. You can also set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up to date on all the news with academic competitions.
Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.
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|
Ask any football player, and he’ll tell you that he had sat in his locker before a game and imagined himself making the big play. There isn’t a pitcher alive that hasn’t imagined himself striking out the big home run hitter in the bottom of the ninth with bases loaded, two outs, and a three-run lead. Basketball players imagine buzzer-beaters and boxers imagine landing the big knockout punch. It’s something athletes do. They imagine themselves playing well and being successful as a motivational tool. The image helps make them confident in their ability to do what they envisioned.
But while envisioning an outcome in the future can help make it happen, it wouldn’t be possible without something else— knowledge.
A quarterback must know how to complete a pass 40-yards downfield to a wide receiver that appears covered (no, you don’t just throw it). Basketball players needs to know at what angle he should shoot and how hard to make a shot. A boxer needs to know how to defeat his opponent’s defenses so that he can land a knockout punch.
Knowledge an imagination both play a role in helping people shape their own future. But is one more important than the other? Albert Einstein would say yes, having stated that:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."
Imagination can help a football player become better at his game. It can help a moviemaker create better movies. But what about the rest of us? Is imagination not as important to the factory worker, teacher, grocery store clerk, or politician?
The Importance of Imagination
In his article, The Importance of Imagination, Psychotherapist, and Social Ecologist Tao de Haas explains how a strong imagination helps us:
"The ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams, and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts. Ultimately, imagination influences everything we do regardless of our profession. Imagination is the key to innovation."
Dr. Haas went on to say:
"Yesterday’s knowledge alone will not suffice. Imagination is essential for anyone, especially for leaders, who not only have to lead people into the future but have to foresee the challenges not yet known that await mankind."
Okay—but how does imagining the future actually help us change it? By foreseeing challenges that could arise, we can develop a plan for dealing with them before they become an issue. For example, rather than wait for a virus to mutate and become a super-bug, we can develop a vaccine that eliminates it. On a smaller scale, it can help a person whose life appears to be spelled out in front of them change their circumstances for the better.
Researchers tested this theory in a pair of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. The results were especially telling concerning women with challenging upbringings. Envisioning a happier, more secure future helped drive them on the path towards achieving it. Mesmin Destin, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, had this to say about the results of the studies (Psychology Today):
“This research shows that (they) can draw from vivid and motivating images of their own futures to help support their motivation and persistence during challenging and uncomfortable tasks. It also suggests that faculty members should welcome students into their offices and engage with them about their goals as a potential way to help mitigate the power imbalance that many students experience.”
How Academic Competitions Help Students Imagine their Future.
Athletes test their skills against their peers on their respective game-field. Students can test their knowledge on a subject matter through examinations. But how can we put our imagination under the microscope to see how well developed it may (or may not) be? How can we train ourselves to picture the future in ways that will help us achieve the goals we want to? We’ve searched through the competitions database to pull out three competitions that are explicitly designed to help students use their imaginations of future possibilities to learn how to solve challenges and tackle hurdles ahead of them.
This competition challenges high school students to imagine how new technologies may change the future, but it also asks them to go a step beyond this and actually use real-world data and mathematical analysis to project how that change will happen. Students have to propose what the change is that they think a technology will bring, and then demonstrate logical reasoning and mathematical analysis showing what they know about the specifics of this change.
Get your students involved in the Modeling the Future Challenge to not only help them with imaging the future, but also with using STEM techniques to project specific details of the change new technologies will bring.
The Future City competition challenges students to imagine a future design of a city that incorporates new technologies and new systems into the city structures themselves. Students must first imagine the future of the city they hope to see, and then examine how that city could come into being.
The Future Problem-Solving Program has 4 competitive components: Global Issues Problem Solving, Community Problem Solving, Scenario Performance, and Scenario Writing. All of these components can help students learn to use their imagination to become better at solving problems and creating the future they want to see; but Scenario Writing and Scenario Performance particularly come in handy. Participants are asked to take one of the five topics for the year and imagine a scenario 20-years in the future (or more). What actions were taken to handle the problem in the scenario? What were the outcomes of those actions? What actions or events are currently taking place in the scenario and how well are they working out? Successful participants will have to use their knowledge of the subject matter and the power of their imagination to come up with potential solutions to whatever the issue is.
Competitions like Modeling the Future Challenge, Future City, and Future Problem Solving Program all give participants a chance to exercise their imaginations. By putting their imaginations to the test, they can develop them further and refine ways to use them to solve challenges that will help them design the futures they want. The better developed a person’s imagination is, the more possible outcomes they’ll be able to create.
By helping our students imagine a better future, we can help them figure out how to make it a reality. So what are you waiting for? Get imagining!
We all know that the season of college applications can be incredibly stressful. From deciding where to apply, to finding good recommendation letters, to writing essays, to worrying whether or not you'll actually get in, there are plenty of things keeping students and parents up late at night. Then, on top of everything, you have to wonder, how in the world are you going to pay for it all?
According to the College Board, the average cost of annual tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. Financial aid from the schools is becoming harder and harder to come by. However, academic competitions are stepping up to fill the void. In this previous post, we looked at the big science competitions and how they're helping thousands of students each year not only get accepted to, but also pay for college.
With this in mind, we wanted to research how mathematics competitions stack up. So we dug into it and identified 36 nationwide (United States) mathematics-focused competitions for high school students. We evaluated how they do in supporting our next generation of STEM leaders. For this analysis, we focused on "pure" math competitions, leaving out science fairs and other STEM research competitions that certainly include math, but have other specific topics as their main focus.
What did we find? First off, there is a new shining star among mathematics competitions. Only 14% of mathematical competitions for high school students directly offer significant college scholarships or cash awards (we defined the cutoff for this at being an award of >$1000 for the top team). The new leader among these is in its first year this fall - the Modeling the Future Challenge.
86% of the national mathematical competitions we researched included little or no direct prize money or scholarship awards for their winners. This does not mean they included no awards at all. Some have great travel opportunities for their top teams to go to international conferences or events. Many are tied into the Mathematical Association of America's network of contests leading toward the International Mathematics Olympiad. Some foundations then use student scores on these exams to provide scholarships. And for the few students that get the chance to go all the way to the international conference, this is indeed a great experience. So there certainly are benefits to these competitions.
The MTF Challenge leads the pack among math competitions providing $60,000 in guaranteed awards, and a $25,000 first place college scholarship. Not only that, but the Finalist Teams each receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City where they participate in the Modeling the Future Symposium and meet with professional actuaries to learn how math can be applied to their future careers.
The Modeling the Future Challenge takes students beyond the exam into real-world applied mathematics. It connects what you teach them in the classroom with actual data analysis and helps students see the true value in applying their mathematical knowledge to cutting edge technologies and careers. "The Modeling the Future Challenge echoes what actuaries do for their careers. It provides students with the opportunity to connect with what mathematics is all about," said Jason Leppin, Executive Director of The Actuarial Foundation, the non-profit behind the competition. “We want to provide life-changing scholarships for students, and demonstrate that math really can lead to amazing careers like being an actuary, which is consistently ranked among one of the top rated careers.”
To win the challenge, students analyze one of the hottest technologies around - autonomous vehicles - and use mathematical modeling to determine how they expect the adoption of autonomous vehicles to change the future. Will it revolutionize how we commute to work? Will it change the way we ship our packages and goods? Will it create new opportunities in how we design our cities? Students will use math to make their own decisions on the changes they expect, based on their own analysis of real data! They’ll write this up in a brief report and have a shot at The Actuarial Foundation’s industry leading big dollar scholarships.
So, this year, rather than just putting your students through another exam, make sure they don't miss out on the chance for a trip to New York City, the $60,000 award purse, and the big scholarships available through the Modeling the Future Challenge. Their college applications and future selves will definitely thank you for it. You can register your team of students up until October 28th. Then the 1-month challenge period begins, when students can analyze the data and submit their final projects which are due November 25th!
To learn more about the challenge topic, data sources, and submission requirements check out: www.mtfchallenge.org.