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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Have you ever been in a situation where you were unsure of the possible outcomes and still had to make an important decision?

Ever wondered whether to take your phone on an adventure trip or vacation, afraid that you might lose it? Ever questioned how risky it is to fly? Or how worried you should be about sharks when you’re swimming at the beach?

Successfully navigating the path of life requires managing risks of all shapes and sizes. As scary as taking risks may be, they are a crucial part of success. In every career, you will be challenged to make decisions that have some level of risk. Understanding and analyzing those risks can be the key to your success.

Enter the Actuarial Process. Developed by leading actuaries across multiple industries, the Actuarial Process is a tool that leverages your mathematical and scientific knowledge to identify, characterize, and manage risk in any aspect of your life.

Similar to the scientific method, the Actuarial Process provides a framework upon which you can step through how to analyze any risky situation. It is a practical tool to have when it comes time to make the decision of how to manage those risks. If students understand the Actuarial Process, they can leverage what they already know about mathematics and the scientific method, and apply it to data analysis and risk management throughout their lives.


How is the Actuarial Process Similar to The Scientific Method?

If you already understand basic scientific and mathematical concepts in statistics and probability, you will find the Actuarial Process easy to master. Its structure is similar to The Scientific Method, providing an organized flow of how to conduct an analytical project that can be used to make mathematically-sound, real-world recommendations on how to manage risks. The graphic below helps demonstrate the similarities between the two processes.

The scientific method includes:

  1. Observing a problem and asking questions about it.
  2. Creating a hypothesis or prediction of what the outcome will be of your experiment.
  3. Experimenting to test your hypothesis.
  4. Using the data from your experiment to come to a conclusion.

The steps of the Actuarial Process extend the scientific method into the world of data analysis and risk management, relying more upon statistics and probability than the scientific method highlights; however, the fundamental structures behind both processes are very similar.

The five steps to the Actuarial Process include:

  1. Defining the project by identifying an area of potential risk.
  2. Analyzing the data you already have.
  3. Creating a model to better understand the problem and collect more data.
  4. Analyzing the risks using the results from the model.
  5. Making an educated recommendation based on the data

In both cases, students are asking probing questions to guide their actions. They are also testing what they think and trying to prove their point. Finally, in each case, students are making a conclusion based on data. But, the best part of the Actuarial Process that sets it apart is that students get the opportunity to solve real-world problems using hands-on modeling, data science, and risk analysis to help them make real-world, mathematically informed decisions.


Why is the Actuarial Process so important?

The Actuarial Process is a crucial tool student can use to thrive in the real world.

In school and at home, students often have their entire path mapped out for them. They don’t usually have to stop and think about their next move, let alone analyze the risk involved.

When students learn the Actuarial Process, they learn to make big, risky decisions in the smartest way possible. They learn the three major methods to mitigate and manage risks. And they learn how to think critically about any situation, using mathematics to analyze the best solutions. By learning the Actuarial Process, students are setting themselves up for success in college, their career, and life.

It is essential to understand; successful people don’t get that way by avoiding all risks. They become successful by carefully analyzing the risks in front of them and making an educated decision on what to do next.


Where can you use The Actuarial Process? 

Risk shows up in all areas of our lives at different and unexpected times. Those that know how to handle these situations when they arise and make educated decisions will thrive and grow into the impactful humans they are destined to be.

While the Actuarial Process can be used in any area of life, one of the best ways to master it is to participate in the Modeling the Future Challenge.


Modeling the Future Challenge

The Modeling the Future Challenge combines real-world math modeling and data science to teach high school students how to manage risks and make mathematically sound decisions. Learn more about the Challenge and the Actuarial Process by downloading the Actuarial Process Guide!


Participants in the Modeling the Future Challenge get the opportunity to solve real problems in the world today. They solve these problems using the science and math skills they already have along with the new skills they learn through the Actuarial Process to find real data and drive their recommendations.

The Modeling the Future Challenge winners walk away with scholarships worth $55,000, but everyone walks away learning patience, determination, and grit. Best of all, students learn the skills to use the Actuarial Process in real-life scenarios to help drive smart decisions throughout their lives.

Additionally, the Modeling the Future Challenge gives students the job skills and experience of working with a team to solve a problem. They will also be presenting their polished ideas to a panel of professionals in their field. This life experience will help them grow academically and professionally. The 2020-21 Modeling the Future Challenge opens registration for teams of high school students on September 14th. You can check out registration information for The Modeling the Future Challenge here.

The Actuarial Process is a life skill that you will fall back on time and time again. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn this incredible tool that will be useful throughout your life.