For many students math doesn’t add up to much excitement, but The Hardest Math Problem contest gets students engaged in the subject with the added incentive of a $5,000 grand prize.   The recent $300,000 grant award that The Actuarial Foundation received from the New York Life Foundation helped fund this national middle-school math competition that helps students practice critical thinking through the art of accurate computation.  Students in sixth through eighth grades completed well above grade-level, real-world problems that combined reasoning skills with math in a competition for a chance to win the grand prize of a $5,000 deposit to a 529 savings plan and a laptop (first-place winners received a tablet, while winning teachers from each grade received a $500 gift card.)

The questions (answers here) were developed with a special focus on appealing to girls, using best practices that encourage and depict girls as active participants in real-life scenarios. 

“Our $300,000 grant to The Actuarial Foundation enables the organization to reach more middle school students building their interest, confidence and skills with math and its relevance to daily life.”

- Marlyn Torres, Senior Program Officer, New York Life Foundation

Winners were required to complete an initial challenge to move on and qualify for Challenge Two and the grand prize. Over 7,000 students from across the country 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.  Laasya N. from John F. Kennedy Middle School in Plainfield, Illinois was the seventh-grade grand prize winner. The winner of the grand prize for eighth grade was Alexandra C. from Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

 “The Hardest Math Problem contest is an excellent example of The Actuarial Foundation’s ability to promote math and important foundational math skills in a fun and engaging way for thousands of middle school students,” said Marlyn Torres, Senior Program Officer, New York Life Foundation. 

“This contest has changed my life. It has made me think about how math is fun and can be incorporated into a competition for prizes.”

-Vedanti Joshi


Want to see how your math skills compare to these computational whiz kids? 

Take the quiz yourself here.

Read the answers here.

Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.

Media contact
Lacey Siegel
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937

Related content