Upper School Students Participate in International Math Modeling Contest

Six teams of Collegiate Upper School students are taking part in the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) International High School Math Modeling Contest until Nov. 20.
Participation in the contest is a requirement of the 24 students’ Math Modeling course. Last year, the international contest entered approximately 800 teams, about half of which were from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries.
 
Collegiate students participating in the contest receive two questions from COMAP, from which they must choose one. They then have 36 hours to work in their four-person teamson a solution to the problem.
 
In order to solve the problem, students do original internet research, develop the mathematics necessary to attack the problem, make needed assumptions, test the viability of their solution and write a detailed analysis and summary of what they have done. They submit their solution to David Bannard, Upper School math teacher, and to the contest director. (Judging will be completed in January 2018 and teams will be notified of the results in February.)  
 
“This is a remarkable opportunity for the students involved as it is one of the few times in their high school experience where they must work with three peers in a short, intense period to solve a problem,” Mr. Bannard said. “In the process, they will be having an experience not unlike those that they are likely to face again in college or the workplace.”
 
The team of Ashley Eastep, Madeline Smith, Amy Kaplan and Taylor Rickman tackled the problem of designing an Olympic-caliber ski resort, complete with expert, intermediate and beginner slopes, as well as a lodge and other buildings.
 
“The contest is a great challenge intellectually, but it’s been a bonding experience,” Taylor said. “We’ve gotten to know each other better.”
 
And the teammates learned to rely on one another in the process.
 
“We found errors and we had to work together to problem-solve and figure out how to fix it,” Madeline said.
 
A second team made up of Laine Beckler, Will Reid, Emily Yue and Scott Phillips worked on how to use drone clusters as skylight displays.
 
“This is not like any other problem we’ve done,” Will said. “Our first work day was difficult and slow but on the second day we had a breakthrough.”

The group used geometry, physics and calculus to come up with their solution.

“It’s fun but challenging,” Laine said of the contest. “There is no straightforward answer.”

Overall, the team felt confident about finishing the solution, analysis and summary within the 36-hour window.

“It’s good real-world experience,” Emily said.
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