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

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.

 

Modeling the Future Challenge

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.

 

Future City

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.

 

Future Problem Solving Program

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.