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Friday, April 07, 2006

Staples Team Wins Moody’s Math Challenge

A team of students from Westport’s Staples High School has won a math competition sponsored by Moody’s rating service, taking home the $20,000 top prize.

The Staples team included seniors Elizabeth Marshman, Vikas Murali, Andrew Tschirhart and junior Miles Lubin.

“The most exciting part was the intensity,” said Frank Corbo, Staples Math Department chair. “You would have thought it was the Super Bowl.”

The first-ever Moody’s Mega Math Challenge is an applied mathematics competition that required students to complete an open-ended, realistic, challenging, modeling problem focused on real-world issues.

On Wednesday the students, accompanied by Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon and Staples Principal John Dodig, visited Moody’s headquarters in New York to face off against five other finalist teams.

The goal of the competition, as stated by Frances G. Laserson, Moody’s Foundation president, “is to motivate high school students to think about solving real-world problems using applied mathematics.”

The quest for the prize began on a Saturday morning in early March when the team gathered at Staples to face the competition’s challenge, to make social security viable for 75 years.

The students needed to craft a mathematical analysis of the problem over 14 hours, and finished just under the 9 p.m. deadline.

Competition rules required student teams to work independent of teacher or adult input or assistance.

Students also had to draw upon skills not only in math, but also in English, social studies and science.

The students developed mathematical models that took into account U.S. census projections, wage increases, inflationary pressures, numbers of people on disability and revenue streams.

Five other teams were awarded scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $15,000, and five honorable mention prizes of $1,000 per team were announced.

Only high school juniors and seniors in the New York metropolitan area were eligible to participate in the competition. In all, 129 teams made up of 572 students submitted viable solutions, an announcement said.

The students will present their winning solution to the Board of Education at its next meeting Monday at 8 p.m. in Bedford Middle School’s cafeteria.

This year’s problem, Solving the Social Security Stalemate, can be viewed at

Funded by the Moody’s Foundation and organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the competition spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool, as a viable and exciting profession, and as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society, the announcement said.

The Moody’s Foundation is a charitable foundation established by Moody’s Corporation.


Posted 04/07/06 at 01:45 PM


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