News From Masters

Math Modeling Team Tackles Food Waste Problem
Posted 03/29/2018 08:00AM


Using their math expertise and observations about their personal choices when it comes to food consumption, a team of Upper School students examined the problem of reducing food waste during the MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge.

Noah Crooks, Wendi Liu, Noah Roger, Jordan Sills and Henry Williams participated in the intensive M3 Challenge weekend in early March. The group was one of 912 student teams from across the country that took part in the challenge.

The students addressed this issue: “Keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of landfills can help the 42 million Americans that live in food-insecure households, but what are the best ways to do this?”

“This year's problem was particularly challenging because it had so many different aspects to it,” says John Chiodo, Director of Innovation, Engineering and Computer Science, who has been coaching Masters’ teams for the past eight years. “Although 14 hours seems like a very long time to write a solution paper that addressed the three parts of the problem, it was very difficult getting the job done.” 

The team learned last week that its paper was one of the top 20% of papers that advanced through the first round of judging, Mr. Chiodo says, adding that this is only the third time in eight years that a team from Masters has advanced to that level. The team’s solution will now be examined by a panel of 12 applied mathematicians and computational scientists.

Most people in the United States have consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living—they are food secure, according to Mr. Chiodo. However, about 15.6 million American households experience food insecurity, meaning they have difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources, according to an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. At the same time, more food ends up in landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


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