Mathematics for Teaching Algebra Guest Post: Mega Math Challenge

Guest Post: Mega Math Challenge

Only a few days remain to register for Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

math challengeSo what’s the best way to teach mathematics to the fast-paced, multi-tasking young people of the information age? Crunching numbers with pencil and paper and poring over the pages of conventional textbooks just doesn’t cut it with this tech-savvy generation, so used to instant gratification!

Today’s math teachers, for their part, are finding new ways to make the subject relevant and engaging for their pupils, ultimately helping them use mathematics to solve everyday problems. There are many ways to stimulate the children of the digital revolution but perhaps none capture the spirit of applied mathematics like Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge (http://m3challenge.siam.org/about/), which allows students to do rather than just read, memorize, or calculate.

The M3 Challenge is a free applied math competition for high school students that connects textbook and classroom learning to the “real world” by simulating the genuine and practical issues we face as a society and in our daily lives. Teachers who coach M3 Challenge participants realize the contest’s potential to educate students in math modeling. And while teacher involvement is critical – they register and prepare teams of juniors and seniors – the responsibility of developing a viable solution paper by the end of Challenge day (and possibly winning a share of the $115,000 in total scholarships) falls squarely on the shoulders of the thousands of students who participate each year.

Challenge Champion

“You have to let the kids do their thing. I try not to direct, I try not to drive,” Ellen Leblanc, an experienced coach from New Jersey’s High Technology High School, shared. “Initially, and prior to the Challenge weekend, the students and I do a little bit of brainstorming: what could the Challenge problem be this year? If the question were “X,” how would you approach it and what is important? Beyond that, you have to leave it up to the students,” she said.

With so much technology at their fingertips, high schoolers in 2013 are used to doing more than just reading and answering textbook problems. Some have the benefit of being offered math modeling classes at their high school, some experience technology-based lessons in their classrooms, and others use the skills in their math toolboxes for extracurricular activities.

“This is really the only competition in the nation where kids come together and have this day-long charrette in a high-performance work team that is so similar to what we do in industry. To have that experience as a high school junior or senior really opens their eyes to what a career in a math-related field can be like. It is incredibly influential,” explained Mary Redford, team coach from Nashoba Regional High School in Massachusetts.

Registration must be completed by each team’s teacher-coach by Feb 22 at 6:00 p.m. EST. It is both quick and easy and there are no fees whatsoever. Register now at http://m3challenge.siam.org/participate/.

 

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