Four Year 12 pupils from King Edward’s School in Bath have reached the finals of an international maths competition. Jack Garrard, Filip Oczko, Max Smith and Carl Willis are one of just six teams to reach the finals of the M3 Challenge. The boys competed against 535 teams from across the UK and America.

“The students have powered the whole project – I was thrilled with the quality of the paper they produced,” said team coach and KES Maths teacher Mr Davies.

The boys researched the competition, organised meetings and produced their mathematical model completely independently.

“When our team entered, we had little to no modelling experience,” said team member Filip. “Organising regular practice sessions improved our skills and we were able to produce a solution that we could truly be proud of.”

This year, the M3 Challenge gave teams 14 hours to mathematically model a solution to the inequality of internet access around the globe. Among other things, teams were asked to consider the needs of different people, the changing cost of connectivity and the distribution of cellular nodes.

Ordinarily, reaching the finals of the M3 Challenge includes an expenses-paid trip to New York where students present their papers in person. For the second year running, however, judging is being held virtually due to coronavirus.

“It would’ve been quite the experience to travel to New York and represent our country as well as our school – there is always next year,” said team member Jack.

In reaching the finals, the boys are awarded US $1,000 in scholarship money to help fund university tuition. First-place in the M3 Challenge wins $20,000 for each team member.

“The scholarship money came as a massive surprise given that it was our first time doing anything like this,” added Jack.

Now in its 16th year, the M3 Challenge is a program of the Philadelphia-based Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and is sponsored by MathWorks, a leading developer of mathematical computing software.

The challenge aims to inspire students to consider careers in maths, data science and computing.

“I really feel I’ve been watching a group of budding mathematicians develop their craft,” Mr Davies added.