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  • Created 22 Jul 2021

Information for Coaches

SCUDEM needs volunteer coaches to help prepare and guide students for their experience in the SCUDEM Challenge. The challenge is designed for 3 person student teams, so you would be working with 3 students, primarily during the period leading up to the start of the Challenge. This webpage will give you more information about coaching expectations.

Registration is open. There is no registration fee to be a coach.

The Challenge Period, during which student teams work on their modeling (without the aid of their coach), occurs from 20 October 2023 through 13 November 2023. The Judging Period will commence shortly after that, with judging typically completed by mid-December.

Please read the complete rules for SCUDEM VIII 2023.


The essence of SCUDEM is the modeling and team experience for each student and the professional networking of students, faculty, and business/industry/government colleagues.

  • Offer students modeling opportunities with differential equations and permit focus on modeling and mathematics.
  • Develop visual and verbal communication skills.
  • Make contacts with others interested in modeling in their coursework or using modeling in their career.
  • Connect faculty colleagues who teach differential equations.
  • Come away proud of what your student team can accomplish.
  • Meet enthusiastic and ambitious young people interested in STEM disciplines.
  • Help your team change their perspective on mathematics from a classroom discipline to a living tool for real-world problem solving.
  • Foster the value and applicability of differential equations.

In the article Building mathematics self-efficacy of STEM undergraduates through mathematical modelling in the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, Jennifer Czocher and her colleagues, Kathleen Melhuish and Sindura Subanemy Kandasamy, have found that interventions, particularly in the form of SCUDEM—SIMIODE Challenge Using Differential Equations, "...can promote students' mathematics self-efficacy." The article was published online on 11 July 2019. The Director of SIMIODE, Brian Winkel, blogged about this work.

Role of the Coach

SCUDEM engagement demonstrates the usefulness of differential equations in modern problem solving. The mentorship of extracurricular mathematical education can develop students beyond usual differential equations education thresholds. See the teacher perspective from Dr. Matthew Dobson, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst MA USA.

The role of the coach for each team is to prepare the team members for participation in SCUDEM, and NOT to assist in any way with modeling efforts during the Challenge Period itself. Read the complete rules. Indeed, both coaches and team members will be asked to abide by a SCUDEM Integrity Statement which says:

During the challenge period, 20 October–13 November 2023, I will not provide assistance to any team member with regards to the SCUDEM problems, nor have I received any animate assistance as a student challenger.

Once the Challenge Period begins on 20 October 2023, keep offering moral support and be sure that students are maintaining a healthy life balance.

We expect teams to coordinate and work together virtually and/or in person, especially since many teams have members in different geographical areas. After everyone has introduced themselves, the first thing to do is to decide which of the three Challenge Problems on which the team will focus.

Specifically, prior to the first day of the Challenge Period, coaches can and should organize the team; meet with team members to discuss technical materials; go over past SCUDEM modeling problems and student submissions; discuss with team members the comments from the problem poser from past SCUDEM events on what good modeling should be; help students develop good presentation skills and concise writing and communication efforts; and go over the requirements for SCUDEM. The coach should make sure students understand what is expected of them in terms of delivering a 10-minute video presentation to be uploaded in Unlisted mode to YouTube by one minute before midnight (11:59 PM) Eastern Time zone on the last day of the Challenge Period, 13 November 2023.

Before the Challenge Period begins, coaches should stress the need for the team to settle on one of the three problems offered (and not carry forth with several problems’ analyses) in the first day or so and move on to success with their model building on that one selected problem. Furthermore, coaches should stress that there is no one right answer. SCUDEM is about the modeling process as applied to the problem of choice. Formulating and communicating efforts are of utmost importance.

Coaches need to emphasize that ALL team members must participate in all aspects of SCUDEM, modeling, writing, and presentation.

Coaches may interact with team members during the Challenge Period, but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should there be technical discussions about modeling efforts. Failure to abide by the SCUDEM integrity statement will result in a disqualification of the students' submission. For students, this is THEIR chance to develop and grow. Coaches, let students bloom.

Things Coaches Can Do

  1. Help form a team through class, Math Club, word of mouth, posting a flyer, etc.
  2. In a team, if possible, seek diversity of skills, e.g., not all programmers, not all “dreamers” – a blend.
  3. Share some of your readings concerning modeling principles and good approaches.
  4. Meet with your team to go over exactly what SCUDEM is all about, e.g., timeline, requirements, expectations. Involve past SCUDEM student participants if possible.
  5. Talk about how to select which problem to do.
  6. Go over past SCUDEM problems and student submissions. Discuss how to attack the model first in practice sessions and then examine other students’ submissions.
  7. The three SCUDEM problems are in (i) physical sciences or engineering, (ii) life sciences or chemistry, and (iii) social sciences. Make sure students know there could be modeling and learning experiences in SCUDEM outside their area of study.
  8. Read and discuss instructive essays by the problem poser for past SCUDEM events.
  9. Stress general modeling strategies; go over a complete modeling cycle from assumptions to model building to solutions and interpretations to parameter estimations or data fitting to revisiting reality to communicating final results in video presentation; point out differential equations solution methods; make sure student accounts and access to computation and production tools are in order.
  10. Visit with your team informally during the Challenge Period to see if they are making progress. Ask about their pace, their attention to schoolwork and personal life(!), as well as time on task for SCUDEM.
  11. Meet with students occasionally during the challenge period to be sure they are aware of the rules and expectations.
  12. Email students to give support, send them some funny math stuff for chuckles.
  13. Ascertain if they are getting rest and maintaining a rich student life.
  14. DO NOT discuss the model itself or students’ strategies during Challenge Period 20 October – 13 November 2023.
Created by Leigh Noble Last Modified Sat May 20, 2023 10:04 pm by Leigh Noble


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