The Actuarial Foundation Selects the Middle School Student Winners of The Hardest Math Problem $5,000 Award Prize

May 13, 2021

SCHAUMBURG, IL (May 13, 2021) – The Actuarial Foundation is proud to announce the winners in this year’s Hardest Math Problem Student Contest, a national middle school math competition designed to help students practice critical thinking and accurate computation, supported by detailed steps taken. The annual contest serves to challenge students in grades 6–8 to solve multistep, grade-specific math problems with real-world situations and engaging characters. It also aims to build confidence with math and establish important foundational math skills for students.

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.  While aimed at middle school students, fifth graders can also compete, and students can challenge themselves by completing problems in grades above them. Grand prize winners receive a $5,000 deposit to a 529 savings plan and a laptop. Three runner-up winners receive a tablet computer. Winning teachers from each grade receive a $500 gift card. The contest is just one in a series of free middle school math resources produced through the partnership of The Actuarial Foundation, the New York Life Foundation, and Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company.

Winners were required to complete an initial challenge to qualify for Challenge Two and the grand prize. This year, 4,306 students participated in Challenge 1 of the contest, and 2,216 of the entries were correct and eligible for the second part of the contest. 1,174 entries were received for Challenge 2, 45% of which were answered correctly. From the correct submissions for the 6th grade question, fifth grader Hayden H., homeschooled from Newton, CT, was selected as the grand prize winner of the question. Suhrit G. a sixth grader from Sherwood Middle School in Shrewsbury, MA, won the tablet. Prabhav G., a seventh grader from Pine View School in Osprey, FL was the seventh-grade grand prize winner. Colby D., a 6th grader from NP3 Middle Charter School in Sacramento, CA, won the seventh-grade first place prize. The winner of the grand prize for the eighth grade question was Hanna Z., a fifth grader, from Donald E. Cline Elementary School in Cold Spring, KY, and the first prize winner was Zane S., a sixth grader from Fairmont Private Schools in Anaheim, CA.

Generously sponsored by the New York Life Foundation, the Contest highlights the dexterity and talents of American middle school students. This year’s Hardest Math Problem Student Contest, which focused on helping to resolve questions surrounding the declining population of bees in the United States, 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.

“I enjoyed reviewing the contest questions in the earlier stages, thinking about what kind of math students at the various grade levels should understand. I love math and education, so it was nice to interact with people who have similar feelings,” said Kim Burt, Actuarial Consultant, Private Pension Plans Division, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

About The Actuarial Foundation

The Actuarial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, is the philanthropic institution for the actuarial industry in the United States. The mission of the Foundation is to enhance math education and financial literacy through the talents and resources of actuaries. The Foundation’s vision is an educated public in pursuit of a secure financial future. Further information is available at:



Holly Monahan
The Actuarial Foundation
(847) 706-3659

Categories: Foundation News