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OHS team wins award in M3 challenge

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m3-logoA team of students from Orono High School received an honorable mention in the Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge 2017. It is believed this is the farthest an OHS team has ever gone in the competition.

Team members were Andy Baran, Alex Berger, Olivia Eriksson, Ben Greiber and Tate Welty.

Of the 1,121 papers submitted in this year’s challenge, the OHS team was one of 78 to receive an honorable mention award. Only 8 percent of the submitted papers were selected for recognition.

The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool and as a viable and exciting profession. The specific real-world problem that is posed each year was unknown to participants until they logged in during Challenge Weekend (February 24-27, 2017).

This year’s challenge:


The National Park System of the United States comprises 417 official units covering more than 84 million acres. The 100-year old U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is the federal bureau within the Department of the Interior responsible for managing, protecting, and maintaining all units within the National Park system, including national parks, monuments, seashores and other historical sites.


Global change factors such as climate are likely to affect both park resources and visitor experience and, as a result, the NPS’s mission to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Your team can provide insight and help strategize with the NPS as it starts its second century of stewardship of our nation’s park system.


Build a mathematical model to determine a sea level change risk rating of high, medium, or low for each of the five parks for the next 10, 20 and 50 years. Here is this year’s challenge in full.

The challenge is entirely Internet-based. Once the problem is downloaded, the team’s 14-hour clock starts and it cannot be paused. Teams can work from any location they choose and can use any free and publicly available resources, but they cannot discuss any aspect of the problem with, or seek help from, their coach or anyone other than their teammates via any medium.

More than 225 Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians served as judges throughout three rounds of judging.

With an honorable mention, the OHS team received a scholarship prize of $1,000 to be divided equally among members and paid directly to the colleges or universities at which they ultimately enroll.

OHS mathematics teacher Michelle Swenson was the team’s coach.