Five Niskayuna seniors worked fastidiously as a team to tackle a real-world math problem under time and resource constraints, akin to those faced by industrial applied mathematicians. In doing so, they finished in the top 50 of more than 1,100 teams competing nationally as part of the Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge.
Teammates Samir Menon, Aaron Chan, Chrissy Li, Brian Vermilyea and Shreya Arora spent 14 hours on a Sunday in March answering the question: STEM Sells: What is higher education really worth?
This problem required the students to create mathematical models to quantify and consider the total costs, expected earnings, and lifestyle factors resulting from a college education, comparing the earning potential of various career paths.
The team's excellent showing earned them a scholarship prize of $1,000 along with an honorable mention plaque. The prize was presented by Laura Favata, Niskayuna High School math teacher and the team’s coach who taught all five students in AP Statistics.
"I continue to be amazed by these highly-motivated students who go above and beyond the required curriculum," said Favata. "They should all be commended on this accomplishment; I wish them well as they pursue high-level STEM fields of study at prestigious colleges next year.”