CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area High School’s five-member “Mathletes” team on Saturday, March 5 attacked a mathematical problem, beginning at 7 a.m., when the students downloaded it from the Moody Math Challenge’s Web site. Their 11-page solution was uploaded three minutes shy of the challenge’s 14-hour time limit at 8:57 p.m.
According to senior student Jill Jacobs, the problem focused on Lake Powell located in the Colorado River Basin, functioning as an indispensible resource for water and power in the American Southwest. However, persistent drought has plagued the basin since the late 1990s and threatened the reservoir and the regions it serves for more than a decade, she explained.
She said 2,585 high school students from throughout the eastern United States sought to determine the long-term impact of the current drought on Lake Powell. Participants in the entirely Internet-based Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge 2011 crunched numbers, formed assumptions and developed mathematical models to investigate the consequences of the drying water resource.
“The enormity of the problem helped the students realize the importance of time management and team work, utilizing each other’s skills to the utmost. It was a great way for them to use their math skills to create a feasible, creative solution,” teacher Judi Bookhamer said.
According to the challenge’s webpage, teams will be notified in April of the results of the triage (first) and contention (second) judging rounds of the M3 Challenge. Teams selected for the top six prizes are required to present their papers at the confirmation (third) judging round to determine final rank-order of those papers. Panels of Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians serve as judges. An awards ceremony immediately follows the presentations.
The top six prize-winning teams receive scholarship awards ranging from $2,500 to $20,000, which are divided equally among team members and paid directly to the colleges or universities at which the winning students enroll. Finalist and honorable mention winners receive team prizes of $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.