Woodlands Academy’s Charlie’s Angles advance in national competition

Modeling the Future Challenge is a real-world competition for high school students

The team, known as Charlie’s Angles, consists of junior Gianna Keuer, of Barrington; senior Ann Kelly, of Gurnee; senior Sophia Gammel, of Highland Park; and junior Aanya Sahu, of Wood Dale.

LAKE FOREST – Members of a Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart independent math study class have passed the first round and are semifinalists in the Modeling the Future Challenge sponsored by the Actuarial Foundation and Institute of Competition Science.

The team, known as Charlie’s Angles, consists of junior Gianna Keuer of Barrington, senior Ann Kelly of Gurnee, senior Sophia Gammel of Highland Park and junior Aanya Sahu of Wood Dale.

They completed a qualifying scenario and wrote a project proposal to clear the first round of the competition and are working on their project, “The Financial Risks of a College Education,” for the semifinals.

There were 227 teams in the first round. There are 111 semifinalists. In addition to Woodlands Academy, an all-girls college-prep high school in Lake Forest, 13 other teams from Illinois – including Stevenson and New Trier high schools – are competing in the semifinals. Teams advancing to the finals could win college scholarships.

The Modeling the Future Challenge is a real-world competition for high school students combining math modeling, data analysis and risk management into a single challenge. The goal is to expose participants to the actuarial sciences through a scenario that uses the actuarial process.

Teams needed to complete a qualifying scenario in which they used mathematical modeling to do a risk analysis of data provided by the foundation and suggest a mitigation of the problem. Charlie’s Angles members worked together to complete the scenario. They then needed to devise a project that would allow them to use the actuarial process to do a risk analysis and determine a plausible solution. The Woodlands Academy team chose to do a risk analysis on going to college. Their qualifying scenario and proposal scored high enough to qualify for the semifinals.

“This is the first year that Woodlands has participated in this challenge, so becoming a semifinalist team is exciting,” math and chemistry teacher Valerie Rickert said. “Once we obtained the qualifying scenario, the students worked cooperatively and combined their knowledge from all the courses they had taken. The amount of data that needed to be analyzed was daunting, but the students broke it down to manageable pieces.”

Modeling the Future Challenge participants learn how mathematics applies to cutting-edge industries and technologies. Their research projects include making recommendations to companies, organizations, government agencies or other groups based on their own mathematical models, real-world data analysis and risk management. Participants also learn about highly sought-after careers as actuaries and other STEM-related professional opportunities.

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