Students in Math Challenge Study Climate Change


Dustin Van Kirk and Addie Obrzut work on a problem – photo by Marsha Jorgensen
On Friday, February 24, 2017, members of Canton High School’s AP Physics class, seniors Adeline Obrzut, Dustin Van Kirk, Elizabeth Raynor, Ethan Porter, Henry Engvall, Kristopher Lucadamo, Matthew Pickett, Noah O’Leary, Santiago Noriega and junior Cole Marcuccio (AP Chemistry) participated in this year’s edition of Moody’s Mega Math Challenge.
The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics (modeling) as a powerful problem-solving tool where a specific real-world problem is given to teams of five students. They have up to 14 hours to develop models to make recommendations on how limited resources should be spent.
This year students modeled how climate change will impact national parks, especially those on the shorelines and how National Park Service money should be distributed. This is a timely challenge as AP Physics recently spent several weeks investigating climate change and our energy supply.
Students analyzed large datasets using software learned in AP Physics, Excel and R, as well as software generously provided by Msponsors, Wolfram Research’s Wolfram|Alpha and Mathematica and Mathworks’ Matlab.
A focus of AP Physics at CHS is to provide students with an understanding of the tools and processes for modeling and making decisions for real-world problems.
Matthew Pickett commented on the event: “I know we all had an amazing time working to create those models. Before taking AP Physics, I never knew about things such as modeling which I can now see are so useful and important to our society.”
Addie Obrzut added, “I had a lot of fun and it was a great way to put our skills to use!”
This event was organized under the leadership of Stephen Riley, CHS Physics teacher.