The contest is put on by COMAP. Information about the contest can be found here: http://www.comap.com/highschool/contests/himcm/index.html. It is a yearly competition that occurs in November. It is for groups of up to 4 students, and costs about $75 per group. The competition includes a maximum of 36 hours to work on 1 of 2 given real-world problems. Each group gets to select which problem they would prefer to work on and they work toward a solution. Then they must write a paper outlining their research, solution, and weakness of it. Sometimes there are other things they must include, such as a letter or a memo.
I don't think I can share any of the previous problems on here, but they are good modeling problems. There is not one solution that is obviously the best. There are many different ways to approach each problem. Also the problems are low-entry, so even Algebra 1 students can work on them. Upper-level students can do more sophisticated mathematics with them, but all students can do something to tackle the problems.
Some things we do at Shenandoah:
- Students register before hand and pay $10-15 to help cover the group fee of $75. The rest of the cost comes from the math club account, filled by fundraisers.
- Students may sign up as a group, or individually. Most students sign up individually, try to convince all their friends to do it too, and then work out groups with the sponsor once our registration is closed. Teachers have the final say in groups. We keep most groups all girls or all boys.
- Each team is assigned a classroom as home base. Teachers give consent for their classrooms to be used ahead of time, and the students love having control of the room for the weekend. They can move things around, but by the time they leave it must be back in the shape it was when they arrived.
- In addition to all necessary classrooms, we use the FCS room for food and the library and the gym as hang out places.
- We start at 8am on Saturday so that we can be finished by 8pm Sunday. Of the weekends the contest is available, we try to choose one where few events are happening. (Also we like it if it is the weekend before Thanksgiving because then we only have to survive a short week afterwards.)
- Parents sign up to bring meals. Several sign up together to help feed the kids for each meal that is needed: lunch and supper on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Most of the teams are done by supper on Sunday, and for those who aren't there are plenty of leftovers.
- We encourage teams to make good progress on their projects before lunch on Saturday, but do allow for some brain breaks. We have the gym and the library open for team co-mingling.
- Saturday night around 9 we play a game in the gym as a whole group (like line tag) and then watch a movie. Around 1 or 2 am we have lights out and kids are expected to stay in their sleeping rooms until morning. Most teams sleep in their classrooms, which is why we usually have all girls or all boys. If there is a mixed group, then they sleep elsewhere. Teachers "sleep" in the halls. We choose locations where kids would have to walk over us to get anywhere if they decided to sneak around.
- That's all I can think of now. If you have other questions please, please let me know I'd be happy to help!
-Kathryn