University partnerships boost Australia’s International Mathematical Modeling ChallengeACER news 14 Nov 2023 5 minute read
The 2024 state winners of IM²C (Australia) will learn from university researchers how to use mathematical modelling for positive change.
What does it take to design a solution for a complex problem – research, keen minds, resources? What about mathematical modelling?
Exploring and harnessing the power of mathematics is just the tip of the learning experience for secondary students who enter the International Mathematical Modeling Challenge (IM²C) to solve a real-world problem.
And, in 2024, the benefits will be even greater for Australian teams who perform well at the state level.
As well as the attraction of having their entries considered internationally, they will see how real researchers are using mathematics to solve problems affecting people nationally and globally.
The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), which coordinates the national IM²C with the support of an expert advisory group, has partnered with universities around the country to offer a unique experience.
Winning teams will get career insights while spending a day (or meeting virtually) with research experts in their fields at:
Queensland University of Technology – School of Mathematical Sciences,
University of Sydney – School of Mathematics and Statistics,
University of Adelaide – School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences,
University of Western Australia – Data Institute or
Charles Darwin University – Faculty of Science and Technology.
Members of the university research groups work to solve problems in fields as wide-ranging as biology and ecology, behavioural economics, materials science, astronomy, quantum computation and using statistical machine learning methods to analyse satellite imagery.
The faculties these groups are attached to are partnering with others on critical issues including food security, energy applications for waste, improving health through biomedical technologies, sea-ice dynamics, and inventing new materials through fundamental science.
ACER Senior Research Fellow and IM²C Australia Project Director Dr Kristy Osborne is excited by what the new partnerships can offer students.
‘This opportunity will give students a chance to see how mathematics can be used to tackle real problems, and the importance of teamwork and partnerships,’ she says.
‘Being able to experience a day in the life of a mathematical modelling researcher will give students a new perspective on mathematics-based careers and insight into where mathematical modelling might lead them.’
What’s involved in the IM²C?
Registrations for IM²C 2024 are now open, with school teams having 5 consecutive days between 13 February (when the problem will be available) and 26 March to work with a teacher or faculty adviser on their entry.
Entrants must develop models of an identified problem by choosing relevant mathematics and making justified simplifications and assumptions. These models are then used as part of the process toward a solution.
For example, in 2018, 30 countries were invited to participate in a challenge to create two mathematical models that could be used to identify a quality hospital, considering factors such as primary diagnosis and recovery and variables such as doctors’ experience.
In 2023, teams from Brisbane Boys’ College and Sydney Boys High School impressed the Australian judges with their entries which determined the best use of a parcel of rural land in Syracuse, New York.
The challenge asked students to look at business and community interests, short and long-term benefits and costs. Entrants were given 8 suggested land use options, information such as maps and geographic statistics, and were then asked to develop a model to predict the best option.
The Australian finalists were each awarded an Honorable Mention by international judges, and shared the recognition with students from countries including Spain, Syria, Turkey, China, the US and the UAE.