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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Staples Advances to Moody’s Math Challenge Finals

(Editor’s Note: This updates an item first published on March 25, adding team members names, a picture, and additional details.)
UPDATE A team of math students from Westport’s Staples High School is among finalists in this year’s Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge.

WestportNow.com Image
Team members include (l-r, back row) Madeline Schemel and Chai Kim; (front row)  Terrie Yang, Claudia Landowne, and Claire Sampson. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Members advanced over the March 21-22 weekend in Philadelphia in the annual applied math contest that gives participants the opportunity to use mathematical modeling to come up with solutions to relevant everyday issues and a chance to win $20,000. Staples last won the competition in 2006. (See WestportNow April 7, 2006)

This year’s challenge was particularly relevant to high school seniors. They were asked to provide cost-benefit analyses of higher education.

Using publicly available data on college tuition rates, scholarships, and financing costs, participants created math models and wrote algorithms to determine the costs actually paid by individuals of various socioeconomic backgrounds, an announcement said.

Staples has never had an all-girls team before. While Moody’s records are incomplete, this may be a first for any finalist team in the 10-year history of the contest, according to an announcement from the Westport schools.

What’s most remarkable is that at Staples, girls’ excitement about math is unremarkable. Females make up over half of the math staff at the high school, the announcement said. Girls routinely sign up for the most difficult courses.

John Wetzel, townwide math department chair for grades 6-12, downplays the significance of the team’s makeup.

“It’s great it’s all girls. But we’d feel the same pride if the team were made up of all boys, or a mix,” he said. “This serves as another example of how we are excelling in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).”

The Staples team will square off against six others on Monday, April 27, in the final phase of judging at Moody’s Corporation headquarters in Manhattan.

They will present their findings to a panel of professional applied mathematician judges to determine the final rank order.

The top qualifying teams (In alphabetical order): Elk River High School, Elk River, Minn.; Maggie Walker Governors School, Richmond, Va.; NC School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, North N.C. (2 teams); South County High School, Lorton, Va., and Staples High School, Westport, Conn.

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Posted 04/01/15 at 09:30 AM



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