CBA Foursome Participates in Research-based Math Challenge

March 6, 2019

Seniors John Memon, Luke Rodgers, William Walsh and junior Michael Dora spent last Friday submitting a “mega” research paper.

The CBA foursome participated in the MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge, more affectionately known as the “math mega challenge.” Through participation, students experience what it is like to work as a team to tackle a real-world problem under time and resource constraints, akin to those faced by professional mathematicians working in industry.

The topic was relevant to today’s society: “one is too many and thousand not enough: substance use and abuse.” The team had to complete three tasks within the challenge:

1. Create a mathematical model for the spread of vaping among the U.S. population going at least 10 years into the future and compare their predictions to the rate at which cigarettes spread in the past.

2. Create a simulation that estimates the rate of addiction among teenagers taking into account societal factors, factors possessed by the individual, and the specific substance… applying their simulation to estimate how many out a high school class of 3000 become addicted to each of the following substances: alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, and un-prescribed opioids. They had to input different demographic data about the high school and create several predictions.

3. Create a metric that rates the societal damage each substance’s addition causes beyond the users.

The boys had the opportunity to utilize a government database, the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). Once the 20-page research was complete, the group had some startling findings.

They predicted that in 10 years, if current trends continue, 28-percent of teens would be addicted to nicotine. That nicotine addiction was not equally distributed between the genders and ethnicity.

They also found that addictions are doing hundreds of billions of dollars of economic damage in the form of lost productivity, injury and death of workers. They also concluded that alcohol addiction is the most “damaging” in non-financial aspects due to child-custody loss, ruined marriages, broken homes and other ruined relationships.

Now that their research has been submitted, the team is in the running for a series of prizes, including a $20,000 grand prize scholarship. A panel of PhD-level professional mathematicians will confirm the winner, runner-up, and third place finisher of the top six teams, with the remaining three teams receiving “finalist” distinction. Twenty-eight honorable mention prizes of $1000 each are also awarded.

The M3C team is moderated by mathematics teacher Mr. Matt Reagan.

About Christian Brothers Academy:
Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) is a private, Catholic, academic preparatory school for boys located in Lincroft, New Jersey. Founded in 1959 and taught in the Lasallian tradition, CBA is dedicated to helping students become intellectually mature and morally responsible leaders for society. Through the combined efforts of the Office of Advancement and friends of the Academy, CBA awards over $1.5 million in scholarships and financial aid to current students. Experience the Academy at