Innovative Math Modeling Challenge for SWR students

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Nine Shoreham-Wading River High School students applied their mathematical and analytical expertise and observations about food consumption to examine solutions to reduce food waste in the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge.

The students took part in the 14-hour, internet-based competition along with more than 4,000 high school students across the country.

Divided into two teams – seniors Keyi Chen, Alex Bakos, Christian Wesselborg and Calvin Schmalzle; and juniors Andrew Honold, Julia Petreczky, Leah Roth, Mahdi Rashizada and Kyle West – they used their creativity, mathematics, science, and English skills during the intensive challenge to gather and evaluate data, then build a solution. They were able to use any free and publicly available resources, but could not discuss any aspect of the problem with, or seek help from, anyone other than their teammates.

The goal is to create a mathematical model to determine if a state could feed its food-insecure population using its wasted food, and then build a second model to determine the amount of food waste a household generates based on its traits and habits. Students then used their models to provide insight into which strategies communities should adopt to repurpose the maximum amount of food at the minimum cost.

“It was pretty intense,” said Wesselborg, who, along with his teammates worked to generate innovative ideas for possible solutions.

Their work is in the process of being judged by more than 125 Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians and six finalist teams will be selected to present their solutions to a panel of mathematical experts on April 30.