The Actuarial Foundation and the New York Life Foundation Announce the winners of The Hardest Math Problem student contest

May 21, 2019

The Actuarial Foundation, in partnership with the New York Life Foundation, is proud to announce the winners in The Hardest Math Problem student contest, a national middle school math competition designed to help students practice critical thinking supported by accurate computation. Competing for a chance to win a $5,000 grand prize, students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades completed extra challenging story problems combining reasoning skills with math.  Grand prize winners will receive a $5,000 deposit to a 529 savings plan and a laptop. First-place winners will receive a tablet. Winning teachers from each grade will receive a $500 gift card. The contest is one of The Actuarial Foundation’s latest collaborations with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company.

“The Hardest Math Problem contest is an excellent example of The Actuarial Foundation’s ability to promote math in a fun and relevant way for students,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer, New York Life Foundation. “Our $300,000 grant to The Actuarial Foundation will enable them to reach more middle school students, continue to build their confidence with math and establish important foundational math skills.”

Winners were required to complete an initial challenge to qualify for Challenge Two and the grand prize. Over 7,000 students entered the first challenge and over 1,000 students submitted entries to Challenge Two. From those correct submissions, sixth grader Vedanti J. from Daniel Wright Junior High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois was selected as the grand prize winner. Jacqueline R., a sixth grader from Norwood Creek Elementary in San Jose, California, won the first-place prize.

Laasya N. from John F. Kennedy Middle School in Plainfield, Illinois was the seventh-grade grand prize winner. Claire M. from St. William the Abbot School in Seaford, New York won the seventh-grade first place prize. The winner of the grand prize for eighth grade was Alexandra C. from Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, Massachusetts and the first prize winner was Max B.  from Carrington High School in Carrington, North Dakota.

The Hardest Math Problem student contest was judged by a team of actuaries who evaluated students’ answers on how well they communicated their mathematical argument, their mathematical precision and their attention to detail. One of the judges, Brian Donlan, FCAS, MAAA, Trustee of The Actuarial Foundation, noted, “With thousands of students participating in the program from across the country, The Hardest Math Problem had a remarkable first year. As an actuary involved in selecting the winners, I was very impressed with the clear communication of mathematical arguments for these incredibly challenging problems.”