The contest is on, as high school students compete in a 36 hour problem solving marathon.
High school students spent their lunch hour in the library preparing for a marathon competition on an epic scale. Not a sports marathon, these Ottumwa High School (OHS)students were preparing for the High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM). This is an international competition requiring that students engage in problem solving for 36 consecutive hours.
Their library space was filled with suitcases containing overnight clothing, and notebooks and research tools.
"I competed for two years in high school and one year in college," said faculty adviser Heidi Scott. "This is an international competition that has been around for 17 years.There is a high school competition, for 36 hours, and a college competition for 96 hours."
As a student, Scott enjoyed the competition and was excited to open up the opportunity to her students this year. The competition generated wide interest, with 35 students from different grade levels seeing how they could solve problems and form teams of four players each.
Teams are given two real world problems, but must choose only one to solve as a group. They spent the library time reviewing the problem and then prepared to break up into individual classrooms. There they will spend the night researching and writing.
"They have to decide how they want to go about solving this problem, but what's interesting about these is that there isn't just a right or wrong answer. So often in math we see one answer to questions, but they have so many available answers and different ways they can interpret them. It's so much more real-life stuff than what they do in the classroom," said mathematics teacher Andrea Baker.
Students will be monitored by the math department during the event, working shifts as the students will remain all night at school. Parents donated food and a donor made a grant that was matched by an employer to cover the registration fees.