Florida High School Students Sweep Virtual Math Competition Amid Pandemic

April 29, 2020

Florida High School Students Sweep Virtual Math Competition Amid Pandemic

Contact Christine Noddin, 703.620.9840, cnoddin@nctm.org

RESTON — April 29, 2020 — Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, is buzzing with excitement as winners of the 15th MathWorks Modeling (M3) Challenge were announced recently. In first place, a team of five 11th and 12th graders (Nicholas Butakow, Pragnya Govindu, Christiana Guan, Michael Gutierrez and Kristoffer Selberg), won the $20,000 grand prize.

Furthermore, another team (Alexander Douglas, Jack Gallahan, Vinay Konuru, Julia Kourelakos and Danny McDonald) from Pine View placed as one of the top six Challenge finalists. The team was awarded a $5,000 prize. Both prizes, set to be distributed among the team members, will be awarded to the students as college scholarship funds. The winners were selected from a pool of more than 3,500 students and 760 teams, and both teams from Osprey were coached by Mark Mattia.

“To have two teams in the top six is very rewarding and now to hear that one of our teams is first place has certainly made our day. I could not be happier for my students,” said Coach Mattia. “This is something they will remember forever. They worked hard and were highly motivated to learn the programming skills and new methods of modeling.”1

The 2020 M3 Challenge was open to all high school juniors and seniors living in the United States, including DoDEA schools and territories. Teams composed of three to five members and one teacher or coach worked together to solve a problem with time and resource constraints, similar to what professional mathematicians experience in the real world.

Developed from collaboration with the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, the contest’s focus problem, Keep on Trucking: U.S. Big Rigs Turnover from Diesel to Electric, challenged students “to create a model to predict what percentage of semitrucks will be electric in the next few years and decades, [to] determine the number and locations of charging stations along major U.S. trucking routes that are needed for an all-electric trucking industry, and to prioritize which routes should be developed with electric charging infrastructure first.”2

“We pose big problems about real issues that many students may not know much about. They need to quantify and organize data and use skills they’ve learned in math class but may have never related to something real or thought they could use before,” said Michelle Montgomery, program director of the Challenge. “Participation in M3 Challenge can change lives — helping students see that math skills can lead to important and valuable work and impactful differences and predictions for their communities and even the world.” 1



The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the public voice of mathematics education, supporting teachers to ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for each and every student through vision, leadership, professional development and research. With 40,000 members and more than 200 Affiliates, it is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in prekindergarten through grade 12. NCTM is dedicated to ongoing dialogue and constructive discussion with all stakeholders about what is best for students and envisions a world where everyone is enthused about mathematics, sees the value and beauty of mathematics, and is empowered by the opportunities mathematics affords.



1 MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge. Florida Students’ Win in National Math Competition Equals Good News Amid COVID-19 Pandemic. Available at: https://m3challenge.siam.org/newsroom/florida-students%E2%80%99-win-national-math-competition-equals-good-news-amid-covid-19-pandemic. Accessed April 28, 2020.

2 MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge. High School Students Use Math to Gain Insight into Electric Trucking for the Long Haul. March 4, 2020. Available at: https://m3challenge.siam.org/newsroom/high-school-students-use-math-gain-insight-electric-trucking-long-haul. Accessed April 28, 2020.