Staples’ Mega Mathletes

First there were nearly 1,000 teams — and 5,000 students, from 29 states — vying for $115,000 in prizes in the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge.

Next — after more than 100 noted mathematicians pored over their papers — only 134 teams were left. That was then whittled down to 55.

Now there are 6.

And one is Staples.

Seniors David Haswell, Robert Perry, Matt Silver and Connie Zhou, plus junior Michael Menz, are now hard at work. On April 26 they’ll make a presentation before a panel of Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians, at the Manhattan headquarters of Moody’s Corporation.

Either Staples — or a school from New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina or Florida — will be crowned Moody’s Mega Math Challenge champ.

Staples Mega Math stars (from left): Matt Silver, David Haswell, Connie Zhou, Robert Perry, Michael Menz.

The contest involved mathematical modeling. Each team had to identify and rank the best regions in the country for establishing high-speed rail lines, as part of a nationwide network. (Yeah, Congress is currently debating the same thing.)

Math knowledge, critical thinking, research and analytical skills were all part of the puzzle. Participants provided mathematically founded recommendations based on potential ridership numbers, cost of implementation, and effects of the program on foreign energy dependence.

Each team had just 14 hours to receive the issue, study it, collect data, devise models, and upload their solutions in the form of a research paper.

The Challenge is now in its 7th year. Staples has competed all 7 times. The school won it all the 1st year, when it was limited to the tri-state area. They finished 6th in 2009, and in the top 15 in 2008, ’10 and ’11.

The top prize is $20,000. Only 5 other schools stand in Staples’ way.

Not bad for 5 teenagers who spent a 14-hour day solving an issue Congress is also grappling with.

Or — looked at another way — it’s the capstone of their 13 years of school, and a lifetime of observing the world, analyzing and synthesizing information, and loving learning.

19 responses to “Staples’ Mega Mathletes

  1. Terry Brannigan

    That’s amazing! Go Wreckers!

  2. Ann Marie Flynn

    Hang in there….you all are having one of the best school/educational experiences ever. Enjoy the ‘trip’.

  3. Fred Cantor

    Very impressive!

  4. being a former mathematician myself (although i probably should have stopped considering myself talented after HS), i am utterly amazed and impressed at the challenge these kids had to complete! if they could solve this as teenagers, just imagine the possibilities during their lifetimes…WOW!! GO STAPLES GO!!!!!!!!

  5. I always knew teenagers were smarter than most of Congress. Go Wreckers!

  6. Kerstin Warner

    Bravo, Staples! I’m cheering you on!

  7. Congrats to all! This is just the kind of activity (I know Staples has held its own version the past couple of years) that will help our students develop and hone 21st-century skills.

  8. Richard Lawrence Stein

    Don’t let Emma know about this…she will certainly rain on this great mathematical parade…. Well done Staples

    • The Dude Abides

      Emma is one of the judges, RLS. GO WRECKERS!!!!!!

      • As you have pointed out on many occasions, the top 10% of the class are well served, it is the vast majority that are at sea.

        • The Dude Abides

          Probably more like 13.8% with the overachieving environment and not necessarily the sea. Sort of meandering through Dead Man’s Creek in a canoe. Nothing unusual. Average.

      • Richard Lawrence Stein

        That biting whit Dude!!!

  9. Go, Go, you guys & gals. So proud of you. What wonders you can/will do for our world!!!!

    Bev Breault

  10. Teacher Fan

    Great kids, great work! They and their parents should be so proud.

  11. How about a big SHOUT OUT to their talented, dedicated teachers who helped them learn how to USE the math they learned.

  12. Advocate of public education

    Congratulations!! I don’t know these kids personally, yet feel so proud of them. This is what Westport public education is all about!!! It is possible to have inspiring teachers who help the kids reach for the stars. Their success is personal, but also a reflection of the quality education at Staples. –So Don O’Day– and the board of Ed, please, lets keep investing in our schools!!

  13. Dan:
    Let’s write a TV series like Friday Night Lights….only about Mathletes!

    Really impressive.

    All best- Marc

  14. Scott E. Brodie

    Go Wreckers!!!!

    Thanks, Dan, for this item. While in my considerable experience, Math is not generally well suited as a spectator sport, it is wonderful to see this sort of thing encouraged, and, of course, delightful to see my alma mater excelling at the chalkboard as well as on the athletic fields or in the performing arts.

    Scott E. Brodie, Staples ’70, (and a card-carrying mathematician, too!)