Durham High School students head to national math competition to solve climate problems

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A group of students from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham is getting ready to go to New York City.

The kids have beat out thousands of students to earn their spot in the Moody's Mega Math competition.

Only the best make it, but this isn't the sort of math competition you might be thinking of.
Timing out traffic, figuring out fuel efficiency, and examining energy issues are all things that impact our lives that young minds are now trying to solve with math.

"There's no real preparation in terms of 'we are going to use these math techniques,'" 12th grader, Angela Deng said.

Forget your basic multiplication and division, the students have 14 hours to come up with a real solution to a real world problem using mathematical modeling.

In this case, they're looking at how climate change affects the US National Park Service and they're using real data to do it.

"You could turn their work into a really nice senior thesis," their teacher and math coach, Dan Teague, said.

Their chalkboard looks more like the alphabet than a set of numbers because they're devising the equation themselves.

"Doing well in these modeling competitions really isn't so much a statement about their mathematical preparation, but really their whole educational preparation," Teague said.

They're competing for scholarships and it's opened doors for them to choose between Harvard, MIT, Duke, and others - making the math very real, showing them how they might use their skills to create a brighter tomorrow.

"The whole process of mathematical modeling has kind of like reaffirm my desire to major in economics," 12th grader, Lucy Wu said.

"It shows me that what I've been learning, and what I will be learning in college can often be applied to address social and environmental issues," 12th grader, Dori Li said.

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