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NCSSM’s two winning Moody’s teams (from left): Guy Blanc, Jenny Wang, Sandeep Silwal, Evan Liang, Michael An, advisor Daniel Teague, Howard Li, Keshav Patel, Graham Pash, Alex Li, Vinay Kshirsagar.

Two teams from North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics entered the 2015 Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, an annual math modeling contest sponsored by The Moody’s Foundation in conjunction with the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The NCSSM teams joined 1,518 other high school teams in the 14-hour contest. At 7 a.m. on the designated day, the students received the question, “Is graduating from college with a STEM degree worth the cost?” At 9 p.m. they had to upload their papers. The papers are read by applied mathematicians, and the top six teams are invited to present their papers at Moody’s headquarters in New York City to a panel of judges.

The 2015 NCSSM teams made it to the final six and, on Monday, April 27, after presenting their work to the judges, they finished first and second in the nation. They earned $35,000 in scholarships between the two teams. The team made up of Michael An, Guy Blanc, Jason Liang, Sandeep Silwal, and Jenny Wang (pictured here) took first place, followed by the team of Vinay Kshisagar, Alex Li, Howard Li, Graham Pash, and Keshav Patel. The team’s paper, 2015 First-Place Moody’s Challenge Paper, centers around a tool to determine the value of a college education by considering the particulars of each individual’s unique situation.

“Mathematical modeling requires much more than mathematics,” notes Dan Teague, NCSSM math instructor and the teams’ coach. ” It requires knowledge of how things work, which comes from the students’ experiences in the sciences, both natural and social, their programming ability, and their ability to write clearly and persuasively and explain complicated ideas in written form. We all share in these students’ accomplishments, because we all contributed.”

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